What analysts say ahead of Telecom result

Forsyth Barr analyst Guy Hallwright

Analysts are picking NZX-listed Telecom to be at the top of its guidance range for net earnings at next Friday's announcement.

It will be the first "clean", half-year result after the company's split with fibre network company Chorus, as Telecom balances a drop in traditional phone line-based revenues with cost cutting.

There has also been a change at the top.

Forsyth Barr analyst Guy Hallwright and Craigs Investment Partners' Arie Dekker are picking Telecom's net earnings to be near the top of the net earnings guidance of between $160 million to $190 million.

Mr Hallwright says the company might beat its second-half ebitda guidance of $560 million.

The cut-price broadband packages being offered is a sign of Telecom's increased competition, he says.

"You'll probably see in the result that retail line loss has, if anything, accelerated and average revenue per line is tending to drift down.

"I think it will show a pretty intensely competitive environment still, but sufficient additional cost savings have been found to offset that, and still get them to the top of the range for ebitda and profit."

Dropping inactive CDMA mobile subscriptions would reduce mobile sub numbers, he says, but there will be a corresponding lift in average revenue per user.

With Chorus being spun off, the company is now a retailer sitting on top of a Chorus network – albeit with scale advantages over the other players.

"Life is going to continue to be pretty competitive for Telecom," Mr Hallwright says. "It will need to continue to address costs vigorously."

Mr Dekker says Telecom may have good news in the mobile phone sector, notwithstanding inroads made by rival 2degrees.

"A lot of Telecom's revenues are in the local access and calling charges and they've been under pressure time and we'd expect to see that continue. Offsetting that, they've got growth opportunities in areas like mobile and also in Gen-i's IT services.

"I guess it's just the extent to which the new businesses are offsetting the declines in the old, traditional business."

By midday, Telecom shares (NZX: TEL) had dropped 4 cents to $2.715. They have gained more than 30% this year.

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