UPDATE 2-Italy's INWIT confirms guidance as outlook remains positive

(Adds details on tax scheme adoption)

MILAN, March 4 (Reuters) - Italian mobile mast company INWIT said on Thursday it expected its core profit to grow in line with its long-term guidance this year, as its business remained broadly unaffected by the coronavirus crisis.

Jointly-controlled by Italy’s largest phone group Telecom Italia (TIM) and Vodafone, INWIT said fourth-quarter earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose 82% to 171.3 million euros ($205.22 million).

The figure includes the contribution from Vodafone’s mobile tower Italian unit, with which INWIT merged last year.

INWIT said revenue, including the Vodafone contribution, rose 84% in the three months to 189.9 million euros. On an organic basis they were up 3.2%.

The company confirmed it expects its EBITDA to rise 5% to 715-725 million euros this year from 604 million euros reached in 2020. It expects its core profit excluding leases to grow 8% to 510-520 million euros.

“We had no impact from the COVID-19 crisis,” Chief Executive Giovanni Ferigo told analysts during a post-results presentation.

INWIT also said adopting a new tax scheme for intangible assets such as goodwill would generate an additional 200 million euro benefit.

The telecoms tower firm, which operates over 22,000 masts across Italy, said it would pay a 30 euro cent dividend on 2020 financial results.

Demand for services from mobile phone operators and other radio network players are underpinning INWIT’s business, while the value of mobile infrastructure has surged as investors look for secure long-term income.

However, INWIT shares lost nearly 17% since the start of the year, mainly due to portfolio rotation into cyclical stocks and expectations of rising rates, Banca Akros said in a research note.

($1 = 0.8347 euros)

Additional reporting by Stefano Bernabei; editing by Agnieszka Flak and David Evans