Telecom Argentina S.A. Announces Consolidated Annual Period ('FY11') and Fourth Quarter Results for Fiscal Year 2011 ('4Q11')

BUENOS AIRES, Argentina, Feb. 17, 2012 /PRNewswire/ --

  • Consolidated Net Revenues amounted to P$18,525 million (+26% vs. FY10); Mobile business in Argentina +31% vs. FY10; Internet +28% vs. FY10 and Data +23% vs. FY10.
  • Mobile subscribers in Argentina: 18.2 million; +1.9 million (+11% vs. FY10).
  • Mobile Value Added Services in Argentina: +55% vs. FY10; 48% of Service Revenues.
  • Mobile ARPU reached P$51 per month in FY11 (+16% vs. FY10).
  • ADSL ARPU increased to P$87 per month in FY11 (+14% vs. FY10); monthly churn decreased to 1.2% from 1.4% in FY10.
  • Operating Profit Before Depreciation and Amortization ("OPBDA") reached P$5,619 million (+23% vs. FY10), 30% of Net Revenues.
  • Operating Profit amounted to P$4,040 million (+26% vs. FY10).
  • Net Income amounted to P$2,422 million (+33% vs. FY10) due to an increase in OPBDA and positive financial results.
  • Net Cash Position: P$2,684 million, an increase of P$1,460 million vs. FY10 due to the strong cash generation of the Group.
  • Capex reached P$2,423 million (23% vs. FY10), 13% of Net Revenues.

Telecom Argentina

(in million P$, except where noted)

As of December, 31



2011

2010

Change $

Change %

Consolidated Net Revenues

18,525

14,679

3,846

26%

           Fixed Services

5,341

4,640

701

15%

           Mobile Services

13,184

10,039

3,145

31%

Operating Profit before D&A  

5,619

4,555

1,064

23%

Operating Profit  

4,040

3,201

839

26%

Net Income

2,422

1,821

601

33%

Shareholders' equity  

7,786

6,237

1,549

25%

Net Financial Position - Cash

2,684

1,224

1,460

119%

CAPEX (excluding materials)

2,423

1,974

449

23%

Fixed lines in service (in thousand lines)

4,141

4,107

34

1%

Mobile customers (in thousand)

20,342

18,212

2,130

12%

           Personal (Argentina)

18,193

16,333

1,860

11%

           Nucleo (Paraguay) -including Wimax customers-

2,149

1,878

271

14%

Broadband accesses (in thousand)

1,550

1,380

170

12%

Fixed line traffic (in MM minutes, Internet & Public Telephony not incl.)

14,899

15,313

(414)

-3%

Incoming / Outgoing mobile voice traffic in Arg.(in MM minutes)

20,689

18,830

1,859

10%

Average Billing per user (ARBU) Fixed Telephony / voice  (in P$)

45.7

42.8

2.9

7%

Average Revenue per user (ARPU) Mobile Services in Arg. (in P$)

51.4

44.4

7.0

16%

Average Revenue per user (ARPU) ADSL (in P$)

87.0

76.1

10.9

14%






*Unaudited non financial data



Telecom Argentina (NYSE: TEO; BASE: TECO2), one of Argentina's leading telecommunications companies, announced today a Net Income of P$2,422 million for the annual period ended December 31, 2011, or +33% when compared to the same period last year, due to a higher Operating Profit and positive financial results.

During FY11, Consolidated Net Revenues increased by 26% to P$18,525 million (+P$3,846 million vs. FY10), mainly fueled by the Mobile and Broadband businesses. Moreover, Operating Profit increased by 26% to P$4,040 million (+P$839 million vs. FY10).

Consolidated Operating Revenues

Mobile Services

Clients continued increasing in FY11, reaching 20.3 million as of the end of December 2011, representing an increase of 2.1 million (+12%) since December 31, 2010.

The activities developed to increase the usage of value added services ("VAS") and customized offers to clients allowed Personal to increase consolidated net revenues to P$13,184 million (+31% vs. FY10).

Telecom Personal in Argentina

As of December 31, 2011, Personal reached 18.2 million subscribers in Argentina (+11% or 1.9 million vs. FY10), thus improving its market position. It is notable that the overall subscriber base mix continued to improve with 32% in the postpaid modality (including "Cuentas claras" plans and 3G modems) and 68% in prepaid.

In FY11, Net Revenues reached P$12,473 million (+P$2,972 million or 31% vs. FY10) while Service Revenues (excluding handset sales) amounted to P$11,001 million (+30% vs. FY10), with 48% corresponding to value-added services ('VAS') revenues (vs. 40% in FY10). VAS revenues increased by 55% vs. FY10.

During FY11, the overall voice traffic minutes increased by 10% vs. FY10. Meanwhile, SMS traffic performance (incoming and outgoing charged messages), climbed to 5,587 million in FY11 from a monthly average of 4,614 million messages in FY10 (+21% vs. FY10). Due to this increase in traffic and VAS usage, Average Monthly Revenue per User ("ARPU") increased to P$51 during FY11 (+16% vs. FY10). Furthermore, ARPU for the 4Q11 reached P$56 (+14% vs. 4Q11).

Initiatives

Personal restyled the mobile business brand and launched a new paradigm with an innovative identity composed by multiples logos which celebrate the main strategies of the company: ¨Diversity and Flexibility¨.

Personal continued its brand positioning associated to music by organizing several events and concerts, such as the seventh edition of ¨Personal Fest¨, which brought together more than 70,000 fans in two days.

During 4Q11, continuing with the innovative strategy, Personal launched "Nube Personal". The clients can access the internet cloud and recover the personal contents (mails, calendar, and contacts) by using any handset with mobile internet. Furthermore the experience of Personal Video services has been enhanced with a wide variety of contents and improvements in the browsing.

In addition, Personal continued with its convenience strategy of fostering benefits such as service packs. Specifically for Mother's Day, Personal presented exclusive benefits such as phone numbers with unlimited calls, extra credit and SMS, the usage of Mobile Internet with disruptive offers such as "Mobile internet P$1 per day" and Personal Messenger. Furthermore, Personal continued offering special services to its client base under their fidelity program "Club Personal".

Personal launched "Personal Touch", a smartphone branded by Personal, at a very affordable price in order to keep increasing mobile internet penetration and value added services. Moreover, "Personal Black" continues offering exclusive handsets to the high-end customers.

Telecom Personal in Paraguay  

By the end of December 2011, Nucleo's subscriber base reached almost 2.1 million clients (+14% vs. FY10), including Wimax clients. Prepaid and Postpaid customers represented 83% and 17%, respectively.

Personal's subsidiary in Paraguay generated revenues equivalent to P$711 million during FY11 (+32% vs. FY10) driven by an economy with a strong growth that allowed Nucleo to develop innovative commercial offers and to lead the Mobile Internet market. Moreover, the level of ARPU reached P$26 in FY11, vs. P$22 one year ago.

Fixed Services (Voice, Data Transmission & Internet)

During FY11 revenues generated by fixed services amounted to P$5,341 million, +15% vs. FY10; with Internet (+28% vs. FY10) and Data revenues (+23% vs. FY10) growing in relative terms the most in this segment.

Voice

Total Revenues for this service reached P$3,169 million in FY11 (+8% vs. FY10). The results of this line of business continued to be affected by frozen tariffs of regulated services determined by the Argentine Government in 2002.

Revenues generated by Local and Domestic Long Distance Measured Services and International Services totaled P$1,462 million, an increase of P$121 million or +9% vs. FY10. In relative terms, revenues from local calls increased the most, with 10% vs. FY10, mainly due to the incorporation of flat rate packs.  Moreover, domestic long distance traffic increased by 9% vs. FY10 and revenues from international services increased by 7% vs. FY10.

Monthly Charges and Supplementary Services increased by P$64 million, or +7% vs. FY10, to P$948 million, as a consequence of a higher number of lines in service (+1%), which surpassed 4.1 million, and a 20% increase in supplementary services.

The average revenue bill per user (ARBU) reached $46 in EE11 vs. $43 in EE10.

Interconnection revenues reached P$485 million (+11% vs. FY10). Meanwhile, Public telephony reached P$53 million (-P$8 million vs. FY10). Finally, other revenues totaled P$221 million (+7% vs. FY10) mainly due to higher revenues on equipment sales.

During 4Q11, Telecom continued promoting offers through packs to add value to clients such as flat pricing with unlimited local minutes, or 100 to 300 calls per month without time limits. In this way, a broad communication campaign was rolled out (including TV, graphic, radio, web) focused on the bundling offer of Arnet Wi-Fi with unlimited local calls and Arnet Turbo 7 Mb.

Data Transmission and Internet

Data transmission revenues amounted to P$415 million (+23% vs. FY10), where the focus was to strengthen Telecom's position as an integrated ICT provider.

Revenues related to Internet totaled P$1,757 million (+P$383 million or 28% vs. FY10), mainly due to the continued expansion of broadband services.

As of December 31, 2011, Telecom surpassed 1.5 million ADSL accesses (+12% vs. FY10). These connections represented 37% of Telecom's fixed lines in service. In addition, ADSL ARPU reached approximately P$87 in FY11, +14% when compared to FY10 and churn declined to 1.2% in FY11 (vs. 1.4% in FY10).

A new ADSL offer on 10MB speed access was launched, where bundling with mobile Internet or fixed voice plans is available. This bundled offer positions Telecom as a residential market leader. Moreover, the online channel was stimulated by doubling the period of ADSL promotions for new clients.

During 4Q11, Telecom Argentina launched the campaign of Arnet Play, a streaming video service that allows clients to watch a wide variety of audiovisual contents in their TVs and computers at home. This service employs multimedia equipment which is connected through Wi-Fi to the broadband access in the house. Arnet Play includes a large list of movies, series, children's programs, concerts, adult content both in the original languages and subtitled. The service uses adaptive bitrates technology that maximizes user experience, video quality and network efficiency.

Arnet Play is supported by the Content Delivery Network (CDN) of Telecom, a last generation network composed of coordinated nodes distributed geographically that facilitates the transport of videos through the Internet, optimizing the multimedia experience at home.

Consolidated Operating Costs

The Cost of Services Provided, General & Administrative Expenses and Selling Expenses totaled P$14,485 million in FY11, an increase of P$3,007 million, or +26%, vs. FY10. The increase is a consequence of higher commercial costs due to a higher volume of revenues, inflationary effects in the general cost structure, and greater expenses related to intense competition in the industry.

The cost breakdown is as follows:

- Salaries and Social Security Contributions totaled P$2,447 million (+30% vs. FY10), mainly affected by increases in salaries due to the labor agreement reached in July 2011 and expired in June 2012 and a higher number of employees. Regarding personnel, in the same period the incorporation of 469 employees in the mobile business and 247 employees in the fixed services vs. FY10 resulted in a total headcount at the end of the period of 16,345 employees.

- Taxes reached P$1,595 million (+26% vs. FY10), impacted mainly by a higher volume of revenues, an increase in the average rates of turnover taxes, by higher bank debit and credit taxes, and by higher taxes from municipal jurisdictions.

- Network access costs (includes TLRD, Roaming, Interconnection, international settlement charges and lease of circuits) amounted to P$1,502 million, +P$112 million vs. FY10. This was mainly due to savings from stimulating on-net traffic among mobile clients by negotiating the lease of wireless backhaul equipment.

- Agents, prepaid card commissions and other commissions were P$1,762 million (+37% vs. FY10), mainly due to the increase in commissions paid to commercial agents associated with higher revenues from the sale of more sophisticated handsets, higher costs associated with a higher volume of acquisitions and retention of customers with the aim of gaining fidelity from clients in light of the number portability implementation in the forthcoming months and higher cards sales and prepaid recharges.

- Advertising amounted to P$612 million (+36% vs. FY10), oriented towards supporting the commercial activity in mobile and Internet services and to strengthen the brands of the Telecom Group through the sponsorship of important artistic events and the rebranding of Personal.

- Cost of handsets sold totaled P$2,107 million (+37% vs. FY10) due to an increase in high-end handsets sales and a higher number of handset upgrades, performed to stimulate VAS usage. These effects resulted in the increase of the average cost of handsets.

- Fees for services amounted to $879 million (+33% vs. FY10), principally due to higher costs from the call centers, more services requirements, and to the renegotiation with suppliers of certain agreements contemplating higher expenses in the cost structure of providers.

- Depreciation of Fixed and Intangible Assets reached P$1,579 million (+17% vs. FY10). Fixed services totaled P$758 million (+5% vs. FY10) and mobile services totaled P$821 million (+29% vs. FY10). This increase was due to a higher transfer to fixed assets, mainly in network access, transmission equipment and switching equipment in both businesses.

- Others Costs totaled P$2,002 million (+21% vs. FY10). This increase was mainly due to general increases in services such as transportation, freight and travel (+27% vs. FY10), maintenance, materials and supplies (+21% vs. FY10) and increase in bad debt expenses, that represented approximately less than 1% of consolidated revenues, and an increase in costs related to VAS, such as content offers.

Consolidated Financial and Holding Results

Financial and Holding Results resulted in a gain of P$203 million, an increase of P$237 million vs. a loss of $34 million in FY10. This was mainly due to a gain in net financial interest of P$217 million in FY11 (+P$149 million vs. FY10) derived from a healthy financial position and to losses for FX results of P$18 million in FY11 (vs. losses of P$99 million in FY10) as a result of a lower exposure to foreign currency debts.

Consolidated Net Financial Position

As of December 31, 2011, Net Financial Position (Cash, Cash Equivalents and current Investments minus Loans) totaled P$2,684 million in cash, an improvement of P$1,460 million vs. Net Financial Position as of December 2010. This was due to the strong cash flow generation evidenced in the period that also allowed the Company to pay P$915 million in cash dividends.

Capital Expenditures

During FY11, the Company invested P$2,423 million (excluding materials). This amount was allocated to Fixed Services (P$1,292 million) and Mobile services (P$1,131 million). In relative terms, capex reached 13% of net consolidated revenues.

Main capex projects are related to improve the network capacity to offer top quality services, to sustain the growth of Mobile Internet, as well as to support ADSL services, enhancing customer's speed. Moreover, projects were associated to transmission and transport networks expanding coverage and capacity, in order to face the growing demand coming from fixed and mobile customers.

Other Relevant Matters

On December 15th, 2011, the Ordinary and the Extraordinary General Shareholders' Meeting has approved the creation of Telecom Argentina Medium Term Notes Program for an amount up to US$ 500,000,000 or its equivalent in other currencies.

In addition, the Shareholders' Meeting has approved the delegation to Telecom Argentina's Board of Directors of the authority to convert up to 4,593,274 Class ¨C¨ shares of common stock into the same number of Class ¨B¨ shares, which conversion will take place on one or more occasions.

Telecom is the parent company of a leading telecommunications group in Argentina, where it offers, either or through its controlled subsidiaries local and long distance fixed-line telephony, cellular, data transmission and Internet services, among other services. Additionally, through a controlled subsidiary, the Telecom Group offers cellular services in Paraguay. The Company commenced operations on November 8, 1990, upon the Argentine government's transfer of the telecommunications system in the northern region of Argentina.

Nortel Inversora S.A. ("Nortel"), which acquired the majority of the Company from the Argentine government, holds 54.74% of Telecom's common stock. Nortel is a holding company whose common stock (approximately 74% of capital stock) is owned by Sofora Telecomunicaciones S.A. Additionally, Nortel capital stock is comprised of preferred shares that are held by minority shareholders.

As of December 31, 2011, Telecom continued to have 984,380,978 shares outstanding.

(*) Employee Stock Ownership Program

For more information, please contact the Investor Relations Department:


Pedro Insussarry

(5411) 4968 3743

Solange Barthe Dennin

(5411) 4968 3752

Ruth Fuhrmann

(5411) 4968 4448

Horacio Nicolas del Campo

(5411) 4968 6236

Gustavo Tewel

(5411) 4968-3718




Voice Mail: (5411) 4968 3628
Fax: (5411) 4968 3616
E-mail: relinver@ta.telecom.com.ar

For information about Telecom Group services, visit:

www.telecom.com.ar
www.personal.com.ar
www.personal.com.py
www.arnet.com.ar

Disclaimer

This document may contain statements that could constitute forward-looking statements, including, but not limited to, the Company's expectations for its future performance, revenues, income, earnings per share, capital expenditures, dividends, liquidity and capital structure; the effects of its debt restructuring process; the impact of emergency laws enacted by the Argentine Government; and the impact of rate changes and competition on the Company's future financial performance. Forward-looking statements may be identified by words such as "believes," "expects," "anticipates," "projects," "intends," "should," "seeks," "estimates," "future" or other similar expressions. Forward-looking statements involve risks and uncertainties that could significantly affect the Company's expected results. The risks and uncertainties include, but are not limited to, the impact of emergency laws enacted by the Argentine government that have resulted in the repeal of Argentina's Convertibility law, devaluation of the peso, various changes in restrictions on the ability to exchange pesos into foreign currencies, and currency transfer policy generally, the "pesification" of tariffs charged for public services, the elimination of indexes to adjust rates charged for public services and the Executive branch announcement to renegotiate the terms of the concessions granted to public service providers, including Telecom. Due to extensive changes in laws and economic and business conditions in Argentina, it is difficult to predict the impact of these changes on the Company's financial condition. Other factors may include, but are not limited to, the evolution of the economy in Argentina, growing inflationary pressure and evolution in consumer spending and the outcome of certain legal proceedings. Readers are cautioned not to place undue reliance on forward-looking statements, which speak only as the date of this document. The Company undertakes no obligation to release publicly the results of any revisions to forward-looking statements which may be made to reflect events and circumstances after the date of this press release, including, without limitation, changes in the Company's business or to reflect the occurrence of unanticipated events. Readers are encouraged to consult the Company's Annual Report on Form 20-F, as well as periodic filings made on Form 6-K, which are filed with or furnished to the United States Securities and Exchange Commission for further information concerning risks and uncertainties faced by Telecom.

Enrique Garrido

Chairman



SOURCE Telecom Argentina S.A.



RELATED LINKS
http://www.telecom.com.ar
http://www.personal.com.ar
http://www.personal.com.py
http://www.arnet.com.ar

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