* Q3 sales stable at 9.05 bln eur (Reuters poll: 9.06 bln)
* Q3 net profit rises 26 pct to 360 mln eur
* 500,000 customers signed up to new 4G network (Adds detail, outlook, context)
By Natalie Huet and Gilles Guillaume
PARIS, Nov 12 (Reuters) - French conglomerate Bouygues stuck to its full-year forecasts after higher construction orders and savings at its telecom and media businesses helped lift third-quarter profits.
Bouygues had warned in August that its telecom unit could weigh on 2013 revenue but said its cost-cutting plan would help improve profitability in the second half.
Quarterly current operating profit rose 13 percent to 542 million euros ($727 million), while net profit rose 26 percent to 360 million, Bouygues said on Wednesday.
Bouygues reaffirmed that 2013 sales would remain flat or decline 1 percent against 2012 after it posted stable quarterly revenue of 9.05 billion euros, close to the Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S average estimate of 9.06 billion.
“The third-quarter results look better than expected at first glance, and the guidance was reiterated, which is good news,” a Paris-based trader said.
Bouygues Construction’s order book grew 4 percent to a record 17.7 billion euros at the end of September. Meanwhile, Bouygues Telecom sales in the first nine months were down 13 percent from a year ago.
The telecom unit’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) rose 4 percent in the quarter, however, and the group restated its goal to stabilize it at around 900 million euros this year through savings.
Bouygues Telecom, France’s third-largest telecom operator behind Orange and Vivendi-owned SFR, began slashing prices last year to cope with a domestic mobile price war sparked by Iliad’s low-cost Free Mobile service.
It has also sought to fight back by being first in the race to roll out a new superfast 4G mobile network and said there were currently 500,000 active customers on this network.
Bouygues unveiled its own stripped-down broadband and phone package earlier this month under its low-cost B&YOU brand.
Shares in Bouygues, which have risen about 25 percent this year, closed at 27.785 euros before the earnings release, giving the group a market capitalisation of around 8.9 billion euros. ($1 = 0.7460 euros) (Additional reporting by Blaise Robinson; Editing by James Regan)