November 2, 2017 / 8:36 PM / a year ago

Altice cautious on full-year guidance, hampered by France

* Q3 results slightly weaker than expected

* Profits and revenue fall in France

* U.S. division looks for partnership in mobile-CEO

PARIS, Nov 2 (Reuters) - Telecoms and cable group Altice issued cautious full-year targets on Thursday as its French unit strives to win back customers by upgrading its networks and investing in media content.

The Amsterdam-based holding became the number four cable operator in the United States last year through debt-fuelled buyouts but still relies on France for about half of its revenues.

Third-quarter sales in France fell by 1.3 percent from a year earlier to 2.76 billion euros ($3.22 billion), while core operating profit dropped by 3.2 percent over the period.

Over the same period, group revenue rose by 0.3 percent on constant currency basis while operating profit grew by 4.2 percent.

This led Altice to provide an update on its full-year targets.

They now include a growth target in group adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) "at the low end" of the high-single digit range.

The group previously said it expected its core operating profit to post high-single digit growth in 2017. The group is sticking to its target of revenue stabilisation in France, a spokesman for Altice said.

"This investment in (optic) fibre plus this investment in media should allow us to turn our net adds in positive territory in fixed as we have done in mobile in the next coming quarters," Chief Executive Officer Michel Combes said.

Combes added the group expected to generate this year about a third of the 400 million euros in annual savings from the 5,000 job cuts announced in France.


Altice is betting that its heavy investments in broadband and mobile networks and the recent acquisitions of top-notch sports rights, such as European Champions League, will help it lure back customers in France.

The French unit's financial performance contrasted again with that made in United States, where its operating margins keep on growing after heavy cost cutting. Altice USA Inc, the cable operator that Altice formed by acquiring Cablevision and Suddenlink Communications, said separately it was launching a new set top box called Altice One next week in select parts of Long Island, New York.

The platform, expected to be rolled out across the U.S. footprint in coming months, offers perks such as cloud DVR recordings and integration of streaming services such as Pandora Media Inc and Alphabet Inc’s YouTube.

The U.S. division is also looking at partnering with a mobile operator that would "provide access to its network," Altice USA chief executive Dexter Goei said.

$1 = 0.8576 euros Reporting by Mathieu Rosemain and Gwenaelle Barzic in Paris; Additional reporting by Anjali Athavaley in New York; editing by John Irish

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