Telecom Italia's CEO Discusses Q1 2012 Results - Earnings Call Transcript

Telecom Italia S.p.A. (TI)

Q1 2012 Earnings Call

May 10, 2012 6:00 AM ET

Executives

Alex Bolis – Head, IR

Franco Bernabe – Group Chairman and CEO

Marco Patuano – COO

Stefano de Angelis – Group Controller

Analysts

Tim Boddy – Goldman Sachs

Paul Marsch – Berenberg

Carola Bardelli – Deutsche Bank

Nick Lyle – UBS

JP Davids – Barclays

Tolster Akman – JP Morgan

Giovanni Montalti – Credit Agricole Cheuvreux

Ottavio Adorisio – Société Générale

Robin Bienenstock – Sanford Bernstein

Justin Funnell – Credit Suisse

Presentation

Alex Bolis

Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. This is Alex Bolis, Head of TI Investor Relations. On today’s call, we will review Telecom Italia’s Group First Quarter 2012 Results. We have with us this morning Mr. Franco Bernabe, the Group Chairman and CEO; and Mr. Marco Patuano, Chief Operating Officer.

As usual, this event is being recorded and all participants will be placed in a listen-only mode during the company’s presentation. After TI’s remarks are completed, we will be pleased to take your questions.

You may follow us today via simultaneous webcast that may be accessed through the company’s website, www.telecomitalia.com, from which you can download or view our slide presentation during the conference call.

We would like to remind you that this presentation contains forward-looking statements within the meaning of the Private Securities Litigation Reform Act of 1995. Actual results may differ materially from those in the forward-looking statements as a result of various factors. Analysts are cautioned therefore, not to place undue reliance on those forward-looking statements, which speak only as of the date of this presentation, and are encouraged to consult the company’s periodic filings, which are on file with the United States Securities and Exchange Commission.

I’ll turn now the conference over to Mr. Franco Bernabe.

Franco Bernabe

Thank you. Good morning, ladies and gentlemen. Thanks for attending today’s Telecom Italia conference call, in which we will summarize the Telecom Italia group results for the first quarter of 2012.

First of all, I think that Saturday’s news of local channels leaving the Telecom Italia group deserves a comment. No doubt that Luca and his team did a great job concerning TIM Brasil. On the other hand, the recent conclusion of complex and lengthy investigations regarding past management of team in Italy has generated growing noise, which did not benefit either Luca’s image as a manager of our company, and our company, so we decided to part with Luca. After his departure, TIM Brasil saw a sound and profitable operations, will continue to be led by its strong management team under the supervision of Andrea Mangoni.

Back to quarterly results, the core business performed in line with the trends that were given our February call. Group revenues grew organically year-on-year by 5.3%, continuing the sequence of partially movements we delivered during 2011. On the same basis, EBITDA was up 0.5% in organic terms, confirming a margin above 40%. Group EBITDA, minus CapEx was down by 2.1% on an organic basis, minus 0.9% reported, as planned network investments in Brazil were accelerated to continue a fiber backhauling implementation in all the right place to increase our positive exposure to the mobile Internet growth wave in Brazil. In this respect, I would like to point out that there would be no changes to the planned investments for the 2012, 2014 period, and that this acceleration will be reassured in the forthcoming quarters.

On slide number 4, we update our main results by core markets. Domestic operations confirmed the role of group cash generator, while Latin America activities continue driving top line growth. In the first quarter, despite the challenging macroeconomic environment in Italy, total domestic revenues were at minus 2.4% year-on-year, five percentage points better than the first quarter of 2011, and organic EBITDA decreased by 3.4% ahead of our domestic target for the full year.

In Brazil, a continued top line growth close to 20% was combined with a 13.5% EBTIDA positive performance year-on-year. Voice services grew at double-digit rates while data revenues were up by more than 50%.

In Argentina, operating results grew double-digit while the complex economic environment was managed effectively. Continued investment in the business were accompanied by a conservative shareholder remuneration recently approved by Telecom Argentina’s AGM at ARS807 million for 2012.

Let’s now move on to an important decision that was taken yesterday by the Board of Directors concerning TI Media which is to start its disposal process. In order to best prepare the ground, a corporate reorganization process has been started which will lead to the separation of its natural business from the TV operations of La Ciete and MTV. As you know there is an important value which is attributed to TI Media’s broadcasting multiplexes. And on the other side there is an increasingly successful quality TV business which has been enjoying a significant growth in share of audience and in advertising revenues.

At this point, we believe that dividing these two different businesses will allow value materialization for the disposal leveraging on different strategic options. While an important element of our disposal bond has just been added so far debt reduction in the first quarter has not benefited from a material contribution coming from M&A unlike the first quarter of 2011 when we cashed in €377 million from the disposal of Cuba. This combines with a year-on-year decrease in quarterly operating free cash flow performance, which is however only a temporary effect and will be resolved in the following quarters as we will see on the following slides.

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