January 30, 2014 / 6:40 AM / 6 years ago

UPDATE 1-Teliasonera sees flat 2014 after Q4 profit lags forecast

* Sees flat sales and margins in 2014

* Q4 core EBITDA 8.7 bln SEK vs forecast 9.1 bln (Adds detail, background)

STOCKHOLM, Jan 30 (Reuters) - Nordic telecom operator TeliaSonera said it expected flat sales and margins in 2014 after reporting fourth-quarter profit below expectations on Thursday.

Operators like Telia have seen sales crimped in recent years by tough economic conditions in many markets and have struggled to turn surging traffic in its networks as smartphone users download videos and surf the Internet on-the-go into revenues.

Sweden-based Telia’s net sales in local currencies were down over the whole year as declines in developed markets offset growth in Eurasia.

“Overall performance was impacted by modest economic growth, regulatory effects and rapidly changing customer behavior,” Telia Chief Executive Johan Dennelind said in a statement.

Fourth-quarter earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), excluding non-recurring items, were 8.73 billion crowns ($1.35 billion) versus the mean forecast of 9.07 billion in a Reuters poll and a year-ago 9.00 billion.

In its core markets the company has switched to charging customers by the amount of data they use, throwing in voice calls and texts for free. It is also mid-way through cutting 2 billion crowns from costs and reducing staffing by 2,000 and that has helped boost margins and hold up profits.

However, it forecast net sales in 2014 in local currencies, excluding acquistions and disposals, around same level as 2013.

The company’s core profit margin was also expected to be flat at around the 35.0 percent achieved in 2013.

Link to full report: r.reuters.com/rab56v ($1 = 6.4650 Swedish crowns) (Reporting by Sven Nordenstam and Simon Johnson; editing by Niklas Pollard)

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