February 12, 2019 / 7:57 AM / 4 days ago

UPDATE 1-Norwegian sport retailer XXL scraps dividend after profit tumble

(Adds background, detail on debt, analyst)

Feb 12 (Reuters) - Norway’s XXL suspended its dividend on Tuesday after the sport retailer reported a 65 percent drop in fourth quarter core earnings.

The Nordic region’s largest sports retailer had warned on profit in December citing deep discounting, sending its shares down 30 percent at the time. “XXL has been too aggressive with price discounts,” it said then.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) fell to 115 million Norwegian crowns ($13.22 million) from 332 million a year earlier.

Analysts had expected 119 million, a Reuters poll showed.

Net profit fell to 44 million crowns from 234 million. XXL said it had “clear ambitions of coming back to a dividend distribution” of at least 40-50 percent of net profit.

But under new covenants it said it had “proactively” agreed with its lending consortium, XXL said it would not pay dividends nor buy back shares until the fourth quarter of 2019 at the earliest.

“Headline results were poor but no worse than the warning on Dec 18th”, Credit Suisse analysts said in a note, but added the Nordic markets remain soft and overstocked.

XXL’s end-2018 net interest bearing debt stood at 1.88 billion crowns, up from 1.69 billion at end-2017 reflecting a draw down of short-term debt.

$1 = 8.6999 Norwegian crowns Reporting by Boleslaw Lasocki and Tommy Lund; editing by Sherry Jacob-Phillips and Jason Neely

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