Telecom Argentina's CEO Discusses Q3 2011 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Telecom Argentina S.A. (TEO)

Q3 2011 Earnings Call

November 03, 2011 11:00 am ET

Executives

Franco Bertone - Chief Executive Officer

Adrián Calaza - Chief Financial Officer

Pedro Insussarry - Finance Director

Solange Barthe Dennin - Investor Relations

Analysts

Robert Villanueva - BofA Merrill Lynch

Alex Garcia - Citi

Ricardo Cavanagh - Itaú BBA

Rizwan Ali - Deutsche Bank

Jasmine Earnshaw - MBA Lazard

Miguel Garcia - Deutsche Bank

Presentation

Operator

Good day everyone, and welcome to the Telecom Argentina, TEO, third quarter 2011 earnings conference call. Today's call is being recorded.

Participating on today's call we have Mr. Franco Bertone, Chief Executive Officer of Telecom Argentina, Mr. Adrián Calaza, Chief Financial Officer; Mr. Pedro Insussarry, Finance Director and Mrs. Solange Barthe Dennin, Manager of Investor Relations.

At this time, I'll turn the call over to Mr. Pedro Insussarry. Please go ahead.

Pedro Insussarry

Good morning to everybody. And on behalf of Telecom Argentina, we would like to thank everybody for participating on this conference call. As our moderator mentioned, the purpose of this call is to share with you the consolidated results of Telecom Argentina that correspond to the third quarter of fiscal year 2011 ended on September 30th.

We would like to remind you that for all those that have not received our press release or presentation, you can call our Investor Relations office or download them from the Investor Relations section at our website www.telecom.com.ar/investors.

Additionally, this conference call is being broadcasted through the webcast feature available in subsection and you can also replay it through the same channel.

Before we continue with the conference call, I will go over the typical Safe Harbor information and other details of the call. We would like to clarify that during the conference call and Q&A session we may produce certain forward-looking statements about Telecom’s future performance, plans, strategies and targets.

Such statements are subject to uncertainties that could cause Telecom's actual results and operations to differ materially. Such uncertainties include, but are not limited to, the effects of public emergency law and complementary regulation, the effects of ongoing industry and economic regulation, possible changes in demand for telecom products and services and the effects of marginal factors such as changes in general market or economic conditions, in legislation or in regulations.

Our press release dated November 2, 2011, a copy of which is being included in the Form 6-K report to be furnished to the SEC, describes certain factors that may affect any forward-looking statements that we may produce during this session. Furthermore, we urge the audience of this conference call to read the disclaimer clause contained in slide one of the presentation.

As usual, in our quarterly conference calls, the agenda for today as seen in slide two is first to go over the general market overview. Then we'll go over to some business highlights and after that we'll go over to some specifics of the evolution of our financial figures and we'll end with a traditional Q&A session.

Having gone through these procedural matters, I'll go over a brief macro description as an introduction of the general operating environment.

In slide 3, we included some snapshots on the current Argentine macroeconomic scenario. You can note that we have performed in an environment of strong consumption during the third quarter 2011. Expansionary fiscal policies stimulated private spending through high transfers to social security programs and lacks monetary policies.

In this context, sectors like Banking, retail business, durable goods production and constructions were the main drivers of growth during the quarter. The recent decline in commodity prices and the international financial crisis has presented a more challenging scenario for Argentina with harder external financial conditions where slower global growth pace is expected.

Regarding local consumptions, spending was driven largely by negative real interest rates which encouraged consumer lending. Also, disposable income rose significantly due to real wage increases and the increasing government transfers to social security programs. Consumer confidence remains in its four-year record albeit inflation continues to be the main concern in the local economy.

On the fiscal front, fiscal surplus suffered a decline due to higher public spending related to the already mentioned causes such as transfers to social plans and subsidies to the private sector. In the external sector, imports rose significantly due to energy imports that more than doubled in the past year. In the third quarter, strong capital outflows affected local interest rates and added pressure to the local FX market, probably reducing aggregate demand in the following quarters.

In this challenging macroeconomic context for Argentina, our company continues to report outstanding growth and results both in terms of business and financials and we’ll be highlighting during this conference call.

And having gone through this introduction let me pass the call to Franco Bertone who will go over the business highlights. Franco?

Franco Bertone

Thank you, Pedro and good morning everyone. We really had an outstanding performance this quarter, and mobile business continues to beat the markets and our fixed business is a very, very healthy growth. Our mobile business maintained a consistent growth in the postpaid segment including subscriber mix and increases in customer base profitability.

We continue to focus in value-added services where we target every client having mobile internet access, creating client and services packs design to meet the needs of each customer in this segment.

We recently launched Arnet Play, our video streaming services. This creates value to our fixed broadband business that has been showing solid performance, increasing ARPU and 28% revenue growth with low churn. Our financial show our focus on cost efficiency, delivering an improved EBITDA margin and a 1.8 billion peso net income in the nine month period of the year that represents a 36% year-on-year increase. Our financial position is sound and has consistently improved in recent years.

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