ECONOMY

CosmOTE 2001 results top market expectations

Mobile operator CosmOTE yesterday posted a 201.3-percent year-on-year increase in group net profit in 2001, above market expectations. The net result, after taxes and minority rights under US GAAP, rose to about 174.2 million euros, equivalent to 18.8 percent of consolidated turnover, against 9.5 percent in 2000, the company said in a statement. Majority-owned by OTE Telecoms, CosmOTE reported 53-percent consolidated turnover growth to 929.4 million euros. The company’s customer base grew 43 percent to more than 2.9 million at the end of December, edging to first place in the Greek market with a 37-percent market share, ahead of Vodafone Panafon with 36 percent. CosmOTE, which said its customer base now exceeds 3 million, also competes with Stet Hellas in the Greek market. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) grew 119.7 percent to 407.6 million euros. As a result, the EBITDA margin improved further, rising to 43.9 percent from 30.5 percent in 2000, and making it one of the highest among mobile operators in Europe, CosmOTE said. «The improvement in the profit margin is attributed to more efficient cost management which, despite the fast growth in CosmOTE’s customer base, resulted in considerable economies of scale,» the statement said. Sales costs, including the cost of attracting customers, was down 2 percent from 2000. Profit per share rose by about 190 percent to 0.53 euros, against 0.18 euros in 2000. Albanian Mobile Communications (AMC), 85-percent owned by CosmOTE and acquired by it in August 2000, increased its contribution to corporate results by posting 267 percent turnover growth to more than 89.4 million euros. AMC’s customer base stood at 273,088 at the end of 2001, 8.5 times higher than a year earlier. Core profits (EBITDA) exceeded 61.3 million euros and EBITDA margin reached 68.5 percent, while the net profit margin was more than 37 percent. Its penetration of mobile telephony in Albania was 10 percent at the end of 2001, against 7 percent for fixed-line telephony. AMC accounted for 9.6 percent of CosmOTE’s consolidated turnover and for 15 percent of EBITDA. CosmOTE said it now has a 50-percent share in the Greek contract customer market, after attracting 54.4 percent of net new contract connections in 2001, maintaining first place for 10 consecutive quarters. It also said it won 40.1 percent of new prepaying customers. Papademos said Greece’s economic performance after the first year of membership in the monetary union had been satisfactory.