(Corrects to Poste cannot ‘make’ forecasts in headline, paragraph 1)
By Francesca Landini
MILAN, May 13 (Reuters) - Italian postal service operator Poste Italiane said on Wednesday it could not make forecasts for its full-year results after reporting a 29% fall in its operating profit in the first quarter due to the coronavirus crisis.
The group — which includes its insurance and financial divisions, the traditional mail and parcel business and a digital payments unit — said the health emergency dented its revenue and inflated costs in March.
Earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) came in at 441 million euros ($478 million) in the first three months of the year, down from 617 million euros in the same period of last year but better than an analyst consensus of 407 million euros.
Total revenue fell 3% to 2.755 billion euros, beating an analyst consensus of 2.712 billion euros.
“The current health emergency will strongly influence economy and society in the coming months ... as a result it is not possible to make realistic forecasts on the economic and financial evolution of the group during 2020,” it said.
The mail and parcel division was particularly hit by the coronavirus outbreak, while the digital payment unit and the insurance business were more resilient.
The mail and parcel business swung to an operating loss of 36 million euros from an operating profit of 148 million euros in the same period last year.
“While 2020 performance has been impacted by lockdown, recent events have accelerated key emerging trends and confirmed ‘Deliver 2022’ strategic direction,” Chief Executive Matteo Del Fante said in a statement, referring to the company’s Poste five-year strategic plan.
In slides for a presentation to be held later in the day, the group pledged to cut costs to mitigate the impact of the virus and indicated a total of 1.1 billion euros potential savings to be implemented in the medium to long term.
$1 = 0.9223 euros Reporting by Francesca Landini;