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A return to a 25% margin on telecoms within reach

  • 18 Nov 16

The first 9m release has confirmed the trend in the last few quarters. On one side, we have the rather negative performance of the construction businesses (80% of Bouygues’ turnover but only 55-60% of its EBITDA) with revenue declines of 2% yoy on construction itself and 5% yoy on Colas, even if Bouygues Immobilier (property development) looks better in a market boosted by historically low interest rates. And, on the other side, Bouygues Telecom (15% of Bouygues’ turnover but probably again 35% of its EBITDA in 2016) is delivering quite impressive results given a French market still shared by four players: revenues were up by 6% yoy for the first 9m (and also in Q3) but above all the EBITDA was up by 23% yoy, with a margin up by 3.4 ppts at 23.1% reflecting the savings made through the restructuring of the group. Note the operating profit will be affected by non-current charges of around €270m, including the roll-out of network sharing with the SFR group and adaptation plans in the business segments, before taking into consideration non-current income related to the sale of towers by Bouygues Telecom. (On 11 July, Bouygues Telecom entered into a definitive agreement for the sale of towers to Cellnex. The agreement initially covers 230 towers for a total amount of €80m, although the number of towers could rise to 500. A gain of €56m on the sale of the first 230 towers was recognised as of 30 September 2016.) As for Bouygues Telecom, management has confirmed the return to long-term sales and earnings growth, and maintains an EBITDA margin target of 25% for 2017 with a plan to save at least €400m in 2016 versus end-2013.