Thursday, October 27, 2011

France Telecom Revenue, Profit Fall as Evolution Continues

France Telecom’s third-quarter 2011 profit fell by 5.2 percent to €3.99 billion. All regions in which it operates, except Spain, had negative results. In France, revenue dipped 4.6 percent.

But France Telecom grew customers by 8.6 percent, pointing to a profit margin erosion issue. France Telecom attributes 1.7 percent of the revenue pressure to regulatory change.

Some of the revenue weakness was caused by a delay in iPhone 4 availability, while slower SMS, voice and roaming income also played a role, as did declining home phone line connections. On the other hand, France Telecom is doing better on the market share front, and loss of landline accounts is slowing.

Everything Everywhere, the joint venture with Deutsche Telekom’s T-Mobile UK, also saw revenue dip by 4.3 percent, with data and text messaging revenue growing 14 percent to comprise 42 percent of average per-customer revenue.

To be sure, the key revenue trends France Telecom is facing have been in place since the mid-2000s. As data from 2007 shows, mobile operators were almost certain to see a shift of revenue from voice to other services in the future, if only because mobile voice essentially was saturated, calling prices were high and VoIP alternatives were coming.

Also, a 2007 estimate of landline and mobile provider revenue contributors in five additional years showed about what one would expect. Analysts at the Yankee Group expected revenue from mobile data and TV, as well as broadband to be high-growth areas, and one would have to agree that has been the case. Beyond that, it has been much less clear what additional lines of business could fuel equivalent growth.

Up to this point, France Telecom primarily has used out-of-region strategies to maintain its growth, a strategy that is not exhausted.

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