Deutsche Telekom has forecast earnings will fall further this year after posting a 1.34 billion euro ($1.8 billion) quarterly net loss because of writedowns on T-Mobile USA and its Greek business.
Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization excluding some items will be about 18 billion euros, or 3.7 per cent less than in 2011, Germany’s largest phone company said today. That compares with the 18.5 billion-euro average analyst estimate compiled by Bloomberg. The fourth-quarter net loss was weighed down by about 3.3 billion euros in impairment losses in the US and in Europe.
Deutsche Telekom, which failed to sell its US wireless business to AT&T Inc. last year, is struggling to prop up profit as T-Mobile USA requires additional investments and the company’s eastern European units lose customers. T-Mobile USA ceded 802,000 contract customers in the quarter as rivals started offering Apple’s iPhone 4S, and the unit will need additional spending of $1.4 billion this year and next before the introduction of faster wireless Internet services, it said.
“They’re a bit more cautious on the outlook, driven largely by the lower expectations in the US,” said Guy Peddy, an analyst at Macquarie in London. “The whole European telco sector is suffering a structural decline in earnings and profitability. Deutsche Telekom’s numbers confirm that trend.”
France Telecom became the latest European phone operator to back away from payout projections to conserve cash amid the debt crisis, following Telefonica and Telekom Austria. Deutsche Telekom confirmed its forecast for a dividend of at least 70 cents a share this year, and predicted free cash flow of about 6 billion euros.
Shares of Deutsche Telekom have dropped about 10 per cent in the year before today. They slipped 1.1 per cent to 15.99 euros in Frankfurt yesterday, valuing the company at 38.7 billion euros.
Fourth-quarter adjusted Ebitda climed 1.3 per cent to 4.61 billion euros, Deutsche Telekom said. Sales slid 3.7 per cent to 14.91 billion euros, trailing the 15 billion-euro analyst estimate. The figures include the contribution of T-Mobile USA. Deutsche Telekom had separated the unit out following the announcement of the AT&T deal last March.