* Sees 2013 capex at 12-14 pct of revenues vs 12 pct in 2012
* Thailand and Norway to lead shift to data
* Shares rise over 2 pct, ahead of peers
By Balazs Koranyi
OSLO, Feb 13 Mobile telecoms firm Telenor
expects to accelerate investments in data and digital
services this year as customers flock to its higher margin
products, it said on Wednesday.
Telenor, which has around 150 million customers in Europe
and Asia, will continue to roll out its third generation (3G)
service in Thailand and fibre network in Norway to take
advantage of "exploding" demand, and could also invest in 3G
services elsewhere in Asia and in Denmark.
"The world is going all out on data. There are new digital
concepts on every corner. It will be all about data in the
future," Chief Executive Jon Fredrik Baksaas told Reuters.
"People are becoming more dependent on data access; I
compare it to electricity, people will take it for granted,"
Baksaas said after the firm published quarterly results and
released its initial 2013 guidance.
The transition to data, particularly in Thailand and Norway,
the firm's biggest markets, could push capital spending to
between 12 and 14 percent of revenues this year from 12 percent
in 2012, Baksaas said.
The shift to data, along with smaller losses in India, will
allow Telenor to improve margins this year and the firm sees its
earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation
(EBITDA) margin widening to 34 percent from 32 percent.
The margin increase and a record 20 billion crown ($3.64
billion) cash flow in 2012 gives Telenor ample cash and it plans
to pay a record dividend of 6 crowns per share after the
previous year's 5 crowns, it said.
"We believe few investors will argue with the company's
decision to accelerate investment to support growth and the
excellent returns in robust markets where demand for smartphones
and data is accelerating," Nomura said in a note to clients.
"The case for generating a positive return on this type of
investment is more secure," it said, maintaining a buy rating on
At 0942 GMT, Telenor shares were 2.2 percent higher at
121.7 crowns, outperforming a 0.1 percent fall by the broader
Still, Morgan Stanley said the upside was limited given that
Telenor has outperformed the telecom index by 30 percent over
the past year and its valuation at 6 times it EBITDA puts it
above the sector's ratio of 5.
Fourth-quarter results, though short of expectations, had
only a muted impact on valuation, particularly as they contained
several one-off items, analysts said.
Analysts said they would be watching out for further clarity
on Telenor's Indian operations, as it may still seek to buy
further licences, or plans for its stake in Russia-focused