July 30, 2020 / 3:36 PM / 4 days ago

Altice Europe beats second quarter core profit forecasts, reduces debt burden

PARIS (Reuters) - Telecoms and cable group Altice Europe (ATCA.AS) beat expectations for second quarter core operating profit on Thursday as it managed to contain the fallout on earnings from the COVID-19 pandemic by adding new subscribers.

The debt-laden group founded by Franco-Israeli tycoon Patrick Drahi also repaid part of its loans during the second quarter, which saw it sell its stake in sister company Altice USA (ATUS.N).

Adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) edged 0.3% higher from a year earlier to 1.44 billion euros (1.3 billion pounds), above a company provided consensus forecast of 1.37 billion euros.

Revenues were down 1.2% to 3.54 billion euros, also beating the consensus by close to a 100 million euros.

The Amsterdam-based listed group, which has businesses from Portugal to France and the Dominican Republic, has embarked on a series of asset sales and cost cuts since 2017, laying the ground for significant refinancing operations, which lowered debt charges and spread payments.

“The group monetized its stake in Altice USA and has repaid 1.2 billion euros of debt since April 2020,” Drahi said in a statement, adding that the group would continue to focus on reducing debt.

In France, Altice Europe’s main market bringing in 70% of revenue last year, the group added 37,000 new broadband customers as well as about 99,000 new mobile clients during the quarter which was marked by a strict nationwide lockdown to fight the virus.

The group confirmed its full-year targets for 2020, including growth in revenue and core earnings.

Its net debt stood at 29 billion euros at the end of June, more than 2 billion euros lower than at the end of March.

Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain, Editing by Sarah White and Susan Fenton

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