(Updates with details)
AMSTERDAM, Jan 30 (Reuters) - KPN, the largest Dutch telecoms company, posted lower-than-expected core fourth-quarter earnings on Wednesday, and said cashflow will fall in 2019 due to restructuring charges.
The company’s earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) for the three months ended Dec. 31 were 530 million euros ($606 million), down from 531 million euros in the same period a year earlier.
Analysts polled for Reuters had forecast KPN’s fourth-quarter EBITDA at 558 million euros.
KPN, which competes with a joint venture between Vodafone and Liberty Global, as well as T-Mobile, has been struggling with shrinking sales and falling earnings for most of this decade. Most analysts believe its cost cutting will eventually bear fruit and further large sales declines are unlikely.
Fourth quarter sales fell 1.1 percent to 1.43 billion euros.
KPN said its base of mobile customers grew in 2018 and revenue per household increased as more customers took multiple products. However, revenues overall declined due to shrinking declining fixed-line revenues, as well as lower revenues from business customers.
KPN’s shares, which closed at 2.51 euros on Tuesday, are down 12 percent over the past year.
“We are determined to deliver organic and sustainable growth of adjusted EBITDA and free cash flow,” CEO Maximo Ibarra said.
“One-off elevated restructuring costs in 2019 will deliver financial benefits from 2020 and onwards,” he added.
The company said in a statement that 2019 adjusted EBITDA would be “in line” with 2018 levels, and said it expected growth over the 2019-2021 period. But free cash flow, which was 804 million in 2018, will fall an unspecified amount due to restructuring costs in 2019 only.
Capital spending will be flat at 1.1 billion euros for several years, as KPN continues to gradually roll out fibre optic network to homes.
KPN said its net debt was 5.9 billion euros at Dec. 31. ($1 = 0.8740 euros) (Reporting by Toby Sterling; Editing by Rashmi Aich and Alexander Smith)