Orange sees low point for group sales next year

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 17, 2015 3:16 AM

PARIS (Reuters) - France's Orange put off a hoped for recovery until 2018, saying it would take until then for sales and core operating profit to exceed 2014 levels as pressure would continue in its domestic market.

As he unveiled a strategy plan for 2020, Chief Executive Stephane Richard said he thought the low point for group sales would come next year, while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) would bottom this year.

"Our revenues have been falling for five years. We've been through a major re-set in France and the impact is still being felt, although most of our customers have passed over to the lower prices," he said on a conference call.

Orange also pledged to pay a dividend of at least 0.60 euro per share from 2015 to 2018, unchanged from 2014 levels, adding that the payout could increase if operating profit was better than expected.

The strategy plan calls for Orange to invest more in its networks in the coming years, putting more than 15 billion euros ($15.87 billion) in to mobile and fixed networks upgrades to boost broadband speeds as it seeks to differentiate from competitors with better quality of service.

Cost cutting efforts will also continue with a further 3 billion euros in gross savings targeted through 2018 on par with an earlier cost cutting plan that was lauded by investors.

($1 = 0.9454 euros)

(Reporting by Leila Abboud and Gwenaelle Barzic; Editing by Astrid Wendlandt)