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UPDATE 2-Swisscom cuts sales target on strong franc
August 8, 2012 / 6:40 AM / in 5 years

UPDATE 2-Swisscom cuts sales target on strong franc

* Q2 net profit 468 mln Swiss francs, vs 456 mln in poll

* Sales down 1.4 pct at 2.82 bln francs

* FY sales guidance cut to 11.3 bln francs, vs 11.4 bln (Adds analyst comment, share price reaction)

ZURICH, Aug 8 (Reuters) - Swisscom lowered its full-year sales target, citing the strength of the Swiss franc against the euro, but said it would keep its dividend unchanged at 22 Swiss francs ($22.74) per share if other financial targets were met.

The Swiss telecommunications firm said it now expected full-year sales of 11.3 billion francs, down from a previous forecast of 11.4 billion francs, after lowering its exchange rate forecast to 1.20 francs from 1.23 per euro.

The franc has clung to a 1.20 per euro cap set by the Swiss National Bank last September to prevent Switzerland’s economy from slipping into recession after safe haven buying pushed the Swiss currency to near parity against the euro.

Swisscom said on Wednesday it would keep other financial guidance unchanged, including a forecast of earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of 4.4 billion francs and stable Fastweb revenue of 1.6 billion euros excluding its low-margin hubbing business.

Fastweb is forecast to end 2012 with slightly higher EBITDA and slightly lower capital expenditure compared with 2011.

Swisscom shares slipped in early trading, a move traders attributed to disappointment Swisscom would not hike its dividend, seen by investors as the stock’s main draw. At 0904 GMT, Swisscom shares were 1.1 percent lower, lagging a 0.3 percent fall in the Stoxx 600 telecommunications index.

Swisscom’s second-quarter net profit fell 3.5 percent to 468 million francs, beating analysts’ average forecast of 456 million francs in a Reuters poll.

Zuercher Kantonalbank said the profit beat showed Swisscom can cut costs, and is right in pursuing a bundled strategy -offering consumers phone, television and Internet.

“The Infinity subscriptions are also an important step, but they are likely to weigh on sales in 2013,” ZKB analyst Michael Inauen said, referring to new, pricier mobile phone plans that allow unlimited calls and texts to other networks such as France Telecom’s Orange unit and privately held Sunrise.

ZKB rates the stock at overweight.

Revenue edged 1.4 percent lower to 2.82 billion francs, as customers increasingly used social media platforms like Facebook to communicate, as opposed to phoning and text-messaging.

European telecoms groups are struggling with declining revenue and profit and face new competitive threats, such as those from Google or “WhatsApp” which work via the Internet and reduce the number of traditional text messages sent.

$1 = 0.9674 Swiss francs Reporting by Katharina Bart; Editing by Mark Potter and Helen Massy-Beresford

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