Deutsche Telekom to resume dividend
Agence France-Presse, Bonn, Germany
Deutsche Telekom, Europe's biggest telecommunications group, said Thursday it planned to pay a dividend to shareholders for the first time in three years after net profit trebled in 2004.
Deutsche Telekom said in a statement that, after going empty- handed in 2002 and 2003, shareholders would receive a dividend of 0.62 euros (US$0.81) per share for 2004.
The payout was possible after net profit more than trebled to 4.6 billion euros last year from 1.3 billion euros in 2003.
Deutsche Telekom's bottom line was much better than expected -- analysts had been forecasting net profit of just over 3.7 billion euros and the telecom giant itself had been targeting 3.2 billion euros.
In the fourth quarter alone, the group swung to net profit of 1.4 billion euros from a loss of 364 million euros in the period from October to December 2003.
Underlying profit, as measured by earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), was improved, rising to 19.4 billion euros for the whole of 2004, from 18.3 billion euros in 2003.
bIn the fourth quarter alone, EBITDA rose to 4.7 billion euros from 4.5 billion euros.
Full-year revenues were up 3.7 percent at 57.9 billion euros, driven primarily by growth in the mobile phone and broadband Internet activities.
bAnd fourth-quarter revenues edged up by 2.8 percent to 14.96 billion euros.
Among the different divisions, the fixed networks unit T-Com remained the biggest contributor to sales, accounting for nearly half of group revenues of 27.814 billion euros.
But T-Com's revenues were actually lower than the year-earlier figure as a result of the sale of cable activities, and also because it lost ground to competitors.
By contrast, revenues from the group's mobile phone unit, T- Mobile, grew by 9.7 percent to 25 billion euros in 2004, driven primarily by the strong performance of T-Mobile USA.
And the Internet arm, T-Online, reported a 6.9-percent increase in sales to 1.979 billion euros thanks to strong customer growth in broadband Internet or DSL.
The information technology services unit, T-Systems, saw sales stagnate at 10.537 billion euros.
Deutsche Telekom said it had managed to cut net debt 11.4 billion euros to 35.2 billion euros last year, helped by divestments, such as the sale of a stake in the Russian mobile phone company MTS.
Looking ahead to the current year, Deutsche Telekom said it expected underlying profits, adjusted for exchange rate fluctuations and changes in the make-up of the group, to rise to between 20.7 billion euros and 21.0 billion euros.
Investors appeared unimpressed by the numbers and Deutsche Telekom shares were fractionally lower on the Frankfurt stock exchange, slipping 0.03 euros or 0.19 percent to 15.94 euros in a slightly weaker market.