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Mixed 2010 for Euro Giants

Ray Le Maistre
2/25/2011

Major European service providers Deutsche Telekom AG (NYSE: DT), Telecom Italia (TIM) and Telefónica SA (NYSE: TEF) all unveiled their 2010 financial results Friday morning, following closely in Orange (NYSE: FTE)'s footsteps. (See France Telecom Battles Through 2010 and France Telecom Updates on LTE, FTTH.)

So how well, or badly, did they do? And what are their prospects for 2011? Well, it's a mixed bag, that's for sure.

Deutsche Telekom
The German giant reported a stable 2010, with revenues roughly level with 2009 at €62.4 billion (US$86 billion), adjusted EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortization, and one-time costs) down 3.4 percent at €19.5 billion ($26.9 billion), and net income up by about 650 percent at €1.7 billion ($2.3 billion).

The operator noted "strong growth in broadband lines, IPTV, and sales of smartphones," with 50 percent of all devices sold in Germany during the fourth quarter being smartphones. The operator noted that in its domestic market, "the fastest-growing group by some margin was devices with the Android operating system."

The carrier also highlighted a 29.2 percent increase in mobile-data revenues to €4.4 billion ($6 billion) for the full year, and reported growing cloud-services revenues at T-Systems International GmbH .

However, Deutsche Telekom reported a net loss of €582 million ($802 million) for the fourth quarter due to one-time costs of €1.3 billion ($1.8 billion), including writedowns on the value of its operations in Romania and Greece.

For 2011, Deutsche Telekom expects full-year financials in line with 2010.

Telecom Italia
It was a challenging year for the Italian carrier as it revamped its European and Latin American portfolios, dealt with a fraud probe and wrestled with a tough domestic market. (See T Italia's Latino Lunge, Tele2 Snaps Up bbned, Axe Falls Again at Telecom Italia and Italian Fraud Probe Intensifies.)

The operator reported full-year group revenues of €27.6 billion ($38 billion), an improvement on 2009. But once adjustments for M&A activity are stripped out, it shows a 3.8 percent dip compared with the previous year. The operator did, though, report a 5.3 percent increase in earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) to €5.8 billion ($8 billion).

But it's currently the carrier's business in Brazil and Argentina that's keeping the company in check, as its domestic operations are a major concern. Full-year revenues in Italy fell by 7.4 percent to €20 billion ($27.6 billion), with sharp dips in revenues from fixed and mobile voice calls the main contributor to that decline.

The Italian giant is expecting 2011 to deliver similar revenues and margins, with its Latin American operations making up for domestic weaknesses.

Telefónica
It's fair to say that Telefónica has been bullish for a few years now, and that's not set to change any time soon, it seems, as its strength in Latin America and its pan-European presence have made up for some domestic weakness.

The operator, which now has 288 million customers worldwide, reported a 7.1 percent increase in group revenues to €60.7 billion ($83.7 billion), with mobile-data revenues growing 19.3 percent to about €9.3 billion ($12.8 billion).

Telefónica expects to grow revenues by 2 percent this year with "limited" erosion to its operating income margins (in the upper 30s). It also expects to boost its global capex by about 6 percent to around €9 billion ($12.4 billion).

— Ray Le Maistre, International Managing Editor, Light Reading

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