* Telia Q1 EBITDA ex items 8.5 bln SEK vs f'cast 8.6 bln
* Sees flat sales in local currencies, to focus on cost cuts
* Elisa Q1 EBITDA falls to 109 mln euros vs 121 mln
* Sees FY EBITDA ex items flat or slightly lower than 2012
(Recasts to include Finnish operator Elisa)
By Simon Johnson and Ritsuko Ando
STOCKHOLM/HELSINKI, April 19 Nordic telecom
operators TeliaSonera and Elisa reported
weaker first-quarter profits, as competition intensified in
Europe's mobile and internet services industry.
Both Telia and Elisa, like other European peers, have been
squeezed by price pressures, falling voice call revenues and a
failure to turn surging data traffic into profit growth.
Sweden-based Telia said it would focus on cutting costs
after quarterly earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and
amortisation (EBITDA), excluding one-offs, fell to 8.5 billion
Swedish crowns ($1.3 billion) from last year's 8.9 billion,
missing the average forecast of 8.6 billion in a Reuters poll.
Finnish operator Elisa lowered its outlook for the year
after first-quarter profit fell more than expected, citing
weaker corporate technology spending and tougher competition in
mobile and Internet subscriptions.
The company's quarterly "churn" rate, which measures
cancellations, rose to 20.0 percent from 19.3 percent in the
Telia's sales fell 4.5 percent to 24.5 billion, also shy of
an expected 25.2 billion. Its revenue has been under pressure in
recent years despite an expansion into markets such as
Kazakhstan, Nepal and Azerbaijan, due to weakness in the Nordic
region and the Baltics.
The company repeated its outlook for flat sales in local
currencies and said cost cuts would help to slightly improve
margins this year.
"We have continued to put significant emphasis on
implementing the efficiency measures initiated at the end of
last year," Chief Executive Per-Arne Blomquist said in a
"We remain determined to bring total costs down by 2 billion
crowns net over a two year period."
At Elisa, slower economic growth and lower employment rates
have meant few businesses are adding fixed-line services, even
though Elisa has been trying to make up for that decline with
services such as online conferencing.
Its first-quarter EBITDA fell to 109 million euros ($142.6
million) from 121 million a year earlier, below the average
forecast of 116 million in a Reuters poll.
The company said it expects full-year EBITDA, excluding
items, to be at the same level or slightly lower than in 2012,
having previously forecast the figure to be flat.
($1 = 6.5180 Swedish crowns)
($1 = 0.7644 euros)
(Editing by Miral Fahmy and David Holmes)