By Dominic Chopping
Norwegian telecom provider Telenor ASA (TEL.OS) said Monday it swung to a second-quarter net loss, but following proceeds from recent disposals combined with a solid balance sheet the company launched a new share buyback programme and raised guidance.
Chief Executive Sigve Brekke said: "We were able to reduce our costs by NOK0.6 billion [$73 million] and we saw margin expansion in all our business units. The robustness of our Norwegian operation, the strong revenue growth in Bangladesh and the return to growth in Thailand were amongst the highlights for the quarter."
The company said it is stepping up its efficiency ambitions and raised its margin guidance for earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation for 2017 to 38%-39% from around 37%.
"With rapid changes in customer behaviour and technology advances, continued cost reductions will be necessary in the coming years," Brekke added.
Telenor still expects an organic revenue growth in the range of 1% to 2% and a capital expenditure to sales ratio excluding spectrum licences of 15% to 16%.
Telenor will buy back up to 2% of its registered shares, representing up to 30 million shares. It said 13.8 million shares will be repurchased in the market while the remaining 16.2 million will be purchased from the Norwegian state. Norway's Ministry of Trade, Industry and Fisheries will participate in a share buyback programme on a proportionate basis so that its ownership interest of 53.97% remains unchanged.
The company saw a net loss from the sale of stakes in associated companies of 5.15 billion Norwegian kroner during the quarter.
It posted a net loss for the period of NOK167 million from a profit of NOK1.11 billion a year earlier. Second-quarter revenue rose to NOK31.47 billion from NOK30.93 billion a year earlier while the EBITDA margin rose to 40.4% from 36.8%.
Analysts polled by FactSet had expected net loss of NOK1.41 billion and revenue of NOK31.26 billion.
Telenor said it added 2 million new mobile subscribers to its networks. It added 1.7 million in Bangladesh and 700,000 in Pakistan, while Thailand saw a decline. Total mobile subscriptions totaled 173.9 million.
Write to Dominic Chopping at email@example.com; Twitter: @domchopping @WSJNordics