* Nordic telecoms post robust Q2 results
* Growth driven by emerging markets, domestic data traffic
* See overall economic improvement
* Tele2 shares gain 4.5 pct, Telenor flat
(Wraps Telenor, Tele2 results)
By Wojciech Moskwa and Simon Johnson
OSLO/STOCKHOLM, July 21 (Reuters) - Nordic telecoms operators capitalised on growth in emerging markets and increased use of smartphones by their tech-savvy customers in the second quarter, helping to justify pricey shares.
Results from Norwegian group Telenor (TEL.OL) and Swedish peer Tele2 (TEL2b.ST) on Wednesday and a report from TeliaSonera TLSN.ST earlier this week showed growing data traffic and exposure to Asia and Russia offset a decline in traditional fixed-line business and tough domestic competition.
Even the Baltic region, the worst hit in Europe by recession last year, was showing signs of recovery. In contrast, European peers such as France Telecom FTE.PA were expected to be weighed down by slow economic recovery at home. [nLDE66I0T0]
Tele2 reported second-quarter earnings above forecast, while Telenor’s were just below expectations. On Tuesday, TeliaSonera was in line with forecasts.
Tele2 shares rose 4.5 percent on the news, while Telenor was little changed given its marginal miss. The broad European telecoms index .SXKP was up 1.2 percent by 0950 GMT.
Telenor saw strong underlying revenue growth in Asia as the region’s economies improved and customers stepped up use of high-end smartphones in Thailand and Malaysia. [nLDE66K03I]
At home, more smartphones -- with applications such as video streaming -- boosted revenues in mobile operations. Telenor raised its forecast for revenue growth this year excluding acquisitions.
TeliaSonera also slightly raised its sales forecast for the year after strong revenue growth in Eurasia and economic recovery at home. [nLDE66J056] <^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^^
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DATA GROWTH While Telenor got a boost from Asia, smaller Swedish firm Tele2 saw its Russian operations driving growth.
In Russia, Tele2 added 1.1 million subscribers in the quarter and said newly launched regional operations would reach profitability faster than previously expected. [nLDE66K03T]
It also got a lift from more smartphone usage in the Nordic region, where a robust economic recovery means users are switching to high-end products like Apple’s best-selling iPhone.
“Smartphones are really becoming mass-market devices,” said Lars Nilsson, Tele2’s chief financial officer and interim chief executive.
More mobile internet use and downloading of movies has started pushing up revenues for Nordic operators. TeliaSonera said on Tuesday this would be one of the main engines of growth.
TeliaSonera predicted that smartphone users in the region would consume 1,000 megabytes of data per month by 2014 compared with around 250 megabytes today, adding data traffic would double every year in the short term.
Revenue growth outside emerging markets, however, remains hard to achieve. Weaning customers off packages that offer unlimited use for a fixed price will be tough. Global economic recovery also remains fragile and competition at home strong.
Telia said local currency revenues would rise around 2.9 percent this year. Telenor forecast 3-5 percent revenue growth.
Telenor trades at around 13.4 times forecast 2010 earnings. Sweden’s TeliaSonera TLSN.ST trades at 10.8 percent, Telia at 11.3 times, Tele2 at 11.5 times, Dutch KPN (KPN.AS) at 9.4 times and France Telecom FTE.PA at 8.5.
(Additional reporting by Ole Petter Skonnord in Oslo and Olof Swahnberg in Stockholm; Editing by Michael Shields)
($1 = 6.237 Norwegian crowns = 7.340 Swedish crowns)
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