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Vodafone Slips on Loss

The company also lays out plans to spend $4.5 billion taking in Japanese units.
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eased Tuesday after it reported the customary gaping loss for fiscal 2004 and outlined plans to buy out the minority stakes in its Japanese units for about $4.5 billion.

The British wireless giant lost roughly $16.39 billion, reflecting a charge of $27.65 billion for goodwill amortization, in the year to March 31, 2004, compared with a loss of $17.85 billion, reflecting a charge of $25.56 billion, a year earlier. Revenue rose to $61.01 billion in fiscal 2004 from $55.23 billion a year ago.

Vodafone's bottom line has been depressed for years by writedowns related to its bubble-era buying spree, which included the purchase of Mannesman in 2000.

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Vodafone said it added 13.7 million net wireless customers in 2004, weighted for its share of various joint ventures, which include Verizon Wireless. On that basis, the company's wireless EBITDA margin rose by 0.6 percentage points to 39% in the year to March 31, 2004.

Traders appeared to be keying on the company's 2005 outlook, which called for free cash flow of about $12.7 billion this year, down from 2004's $15.49 billion, reflecting about $1.8 billion of additional capital expenditures and a higher tax rate. The company said its weighted EBITDA margin should be "stable" in 2005.

The stock was recently trading down $1.36, or 5.5%, to $23.21 in early

New York Stock Exchange


Separately, Vodafone said it would buy out the outstanding shares of two Japanese units, Vodafone K.K and Vodafone Holdings K.K., with existing cash.