* Q4 core profit SEK 7.91 bln vs forecast 7.76 bln
* Sees 2020 op cash flow at SEK 10.5-11.5 bln
* Sees core EBITDA rising 2-5% in 2020 (Adds background, detail, CEO quotes)
STOCKHOLM, Jan 29 (Reuters) - Swedish telecoms operator Telia reported quarterly core earnings above market expectations on Wednesday but forecast lower operational cash flow this year, a measure closely eyed by investors to gauge future dividend capacity.
Telia is going through a major restructuring, having withdrawn from central Asia markets in recent years to focus on its core Nordic and Baltic markets.
It also comes fresh off of two major acquisitions, buying Norway’s Get in 2018 and Bonnier Broadcasting, parent of Sweden’s biggest commercial channel TV4, in 2019.
The company’s fourth-quarter adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) was 7.91 billion Swedish crowns ($833 million), up from 6.68 billion crowns a year earlier and above the 7.76 billion mean analyst forecast in a Refinitiv poll.
“We have delivered on the financial targets we had set up for ourselves in 2019 as we have taken important steps in executing on our strategy,” acting CEO Christian Luiga said in a statement.
While the company said it expected adjusted EBITDA to grow 2-5% this year, it also forecast operational free cash flow of 10.5-11.5 billion crowns for 2020, a decline compared to the 12.6 billion reported in 2019.
The cash flow forecast came against a background where Telia said it did not expect further cuts in capital spending while it also anticipated “increased ambition” in its mobile network in Finland and Get’s operations in Norway.
It proposed a dividend of 2.45 crowns per share for 2019, roughly in line with analyst forecasts. ($1 = 9.4970 Swedish crowns) (Reporting by Johannes Hellstrom; editing by Niklas Pollard)