Belgacom’s 2Q results are obviously heavily impacted by the accounting impact of the new telco law, complicating y/y comparisons and comparisons to estimates (that did not include the one-off).
On an underlying basis, sales were 2% ahead of estimates driven by the low-margin ICS segment while profits were in line. In our comments, we adjust the reported results for the accounting one-off (€ 12m on sales, € 34m on EBITDA), for the sake of clarity and comparability.
Sales (adjusted for the € 12m impact of the telco law) are up 0.7% to € 1623m, about 2% ahead of our (€ 1597m) and CSS (€ 1587m) estimates. The outperformance is driven by the (low-margin) ICS activities (International carrier Services), the other divisions perform in line.
On a comparable basis, adjusted EBITDA is down 4.7% y/y to € 468m (28.8% margin), perfectly in line with the € 469m CSS (KBCS: € 461m). When adjusting reported EBIT (€ 236m) for the one-off related to the new telco law as well as a € 10m non-recurring charge (related to a review of liabilities for a restructuring programme due to changes in the legislation on pension age) it is perfectly in line with the € 279m CSS estimate (KBCS: € 277m).
The € 110m FCF during the quarter is below expectations (€ 194m) due to higher working capital (+ € 95m during the quarter, mainly due to movements in receivables and tax payables).
Belgacom announces again very decent subscriber numbers: Fixed voice (-37k) and broadband (+9k) are in line with expectations, TV (+48k vs +38k expected) and mobile (+45k vs +27k expected) are ahead of expectations.
Guidance (that excludes the accounting impact of new telco law) is maintained, including around 1% sales decline and 5 to 6% EBITDA decline, and capex/sales at the high end of the 10-12% range. Our and CSS estimates are in line with this.
Our View & Conclusion:
When adjusting for the one-offs, sales were 2% ahead of CSS but this was driven by the low-margin ICS business. Hence, underlying profits are well in line with expectations. Outlook is maintained. FCF impacted by working capital. Subscribers in line (telephony and BB) to somewhat better than expected (TV and mobile).
Our and CSS sales forecasts might be upped a bit following the good 2Q performance, but we expect no material changes to profit forecasts as 2Q profits were in line and the outlook is maintained. BUY rating maintained based on the high dividend yield (as expected there was no news yet on a possible hike in the interim dividend, this could come at the 3Q release) and attractive valuation.