July 26, 2013 / 5:56 AM / 4 years ago

UPDATE 2-Belgacom eases mobile pain with fixed-line growth

* Q2 core profit 430 mln euros vs 414 mln expected

* Belgian mobile market hit by regulation, competition

* Keeps 2013 outlook

* Shares rise as much as 14.5 pct to three-month highs (Adds share price, analyst comment)

By Robert-Jan Bartunek

BRUSSELS, July 26 (Reuters) - Telecoms group Belgacom emerged as a winner in the increasingly competitive Belgian market on Friday, as growth in residential Internet and television sales offset a fall in mobile phone revenues.

Mobile operators in Belgium have been hit by EU rate caps for routing competitors’ calls and for using phones abroad as well as a Belgian rule limiting the maximum duration of customer contracts to six months.

Rival Mobistar, which has no fixed line network, sharply cut its 2013 outlook on Monday.

Belgacom’s core profit in the second quarter fell by 1.9 percent to 430 million euros ($569 million), just above the 414 million euros expected in a Reuters poll of 10 analysts.

The group’s shares were the strongest performers on the FTSEurofirst300 Index of leading European shares, rising as much as 14.5 percent and reaching their highest levels since April.

“Their numbers come as a relief. Having seen the collapse of Mobistar numbers, investors were probably expecting weaker numbers for Belgacom as well,” said Kepler analyst Javier Borrachero.

Belgacom said it added 93,000 private mobile customer contracts in the second quarter by lowering prices and selling deals combining mobile and fixed-line products.

It said mobile revenues fell 7 percent from private customers and 11.3 percent from business.

Revenues for broadband internet and digital television rose by 5.4 percent and 15.3 percent respectively as it increased prices and added new customers.

Peer Mobistar, which stopped selling fixed-line services in May, said on Monday that Belgian prices for mobile voice and data traffic fell 20 percent over the past year, leading it to scrap its dividend and cut its forecasts.

It also said Belgacom and the regional cable operators, such as Telenet, were able to offer very low mobile rates because of a cushion from high prices for fixed-line services.

Dutch operator KPN said core profit from its Belgian mobile unit BASE declined 26 percent as revenues fell and it spent more on new products.

Belgacom group repeated it expects its 2013 revenues to fall by between 1 to 2 percent and its core profit to decline between 4 and 6 percent.

Cable operator Telenet, which shook up the Belgian market by offering competitive mobile phone renting access to Mobistar’s network, will report its results on Tuesday July 30. ($1 = 0.7555 euros) (Editing by David Cowell/Ruth Pitchford)

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