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By Sudip Kar-Gupta
PARIS, Aug 1 (Reuters) - Altice Europe’s shares jumped to their highest level in two years on Thursday, after the cable and telecoms group raised its full-year financial targets.
Altice Europe shares were up 22% in early session trading, with the stock touching its highest level since July 2017.
Late on Wednesday, the company lifted its full-year targets after its French arm swung back to growth in the second quarter, signalling a turnaround in its main market.
“It looks as if there has been a good recovery in its activities in France, even though the general situation regarding Altice and its debts remains precarious,” said Gregoire Laverne, fund manager at Roche Brune Asset Management.
The group’s founder and majority-owner Patrick Drahi, on a quest to reassure investors about the company’s capacity to repay a hefty 30.1 billion-euro ($33.3 billion) debt, hailed the performance as proof that his strategic shift from cost-cutting towards gaining clients and selling assets was working.
Altice Europe’s group revenue was up 3.3% on a constant currency basis to 3.59 billion euros in the second quarter, while core operating profit jumped 9.3% to 1.43 billion euros.
As a result, the group said it now expected operating free cash flow to grow by around 15% in 2019, compared with about 10% previously. It also expects sales at its French unit to grow between 5-6%, compared with 3-5% previously.
In June, Drahi made a surprise move into the art world by snapping up Sotheby’s in a $3.7 billion deal, partly funded by the sale of some of his shares in Altice USA.
$1 = 0.9054 euros Reporting by Sudip Kar-Gupta; editing by Deepa Babington