* Sees 2013 revenue around 4.1 bln euros, capex of 0.7 bln
* Sees short-term pressure on margins as price wars rage
* Gives no 2013 profit guidance, reiterates dividend plans
* Shares down as much as 2.9 pct vs Monday's near 4-mo high
(Adds market reaction)
By Michael Shields
VIENNA, Jan 8 Telekom Austria warned
of a further fall in revenue this year, saying tough conditions
would continue to weigh on margins as industry consolidation in
its cut-throat home market fails to end a price war.
The group - in which Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim built a
26 percent stake last year - put expected revenue at around 4.1
billion euros ($5.4 billion), down from the 4.2 billion it has
forecast for 2012, and reiterated it expected to pay a reduced
dividend of 0.05 euros per share for 2012 and 2013.
In a change of policy, it gave no forecast for 2013 earnings
before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA).
The company said it planned a range of unspecified measures
to protect its position in its most important mobile business
areas, but cautioned these initiatives would come at a cost.
"While this will impact margins in the short term, the
management ... is confident that this strategy will provide the
optimal basis for future stabilisation," it said, adding it
would intensify cost-cutting to reduce pressure on margins.
Its shares, which had risen on Monday to their highest since
September, fell as much as 2.9 percent in early trading and were
down 2.7 percent at 5.667 euros by 0855 GMT, while the European
sector firmed 0.9 percent.
"That Telekom Austria lacks the confidence to give any
guidance on EBITDA is in our view a cause for concern and
underscores the lack of visibility for the company over the
coming year," analysts at Espirito Santo Investment Bank said.
Cost-cutting had helped Telekom Austria hold earnings steady
in the third quarter and in November it had reiterated its
financial forecasts for 2012, which it cut in August, and said
it intended to pay a 5 cent dividend, which it had slashed in
September from 0.38 euros.
Dutch group KPN, Slim's other recent investment
target in Europe, as well as European peers Deutsche Telekom
, Telefonica and France Telecom,
have all cut their planned dividend payments for 2012.
Hutchison Whampoa's takeover of larger rival
Orange Austria has cut the number of mobile operators
to three in the Austrian market of just 8.4 million people,
where all-inclusive monthly packages start at just 7 euros, but
competition is expected to remain fierce.
"All three providers want to grow more so price competition
will stay hard," Telekom Austria Chief Executive Hannes
Ametsreiter told a newspaper at the weekend. His rivals have
also shown no sign of backing down on offers that let consumers
be very choosy.
Ametsreiter had spooked markets by saying in the interview
he expected 2012 net profit of around 100 million euros, well
below market expectations..
Its 2012 forecast had been for EBITDA of between 1.40
billion euros and 1.45 billion. It said on Tuesday it would no
longer provide profit forecasts, giving an outlook only for
revenue and capital spending.
The group has bet on emerging European countries to offset
declines in its mature and crowded home market. But there has
been little sign of improvement so far.
It faces major investments this year to compete in an
auction of Austrian next-generation radio frequencies and needs
to prolong existing frequency contracts as well. Its chairman
told a magazine last week the company was eyeing a hybrid debt
issue of us to 800 million euros.
The company is due to give a presentation on its strategy on
(Editing by Greg Mahlich)