Cellcom Israel Q1 loss widens on coronavirus impact

TEL AVIV, May 21 (Reuters) - Cellcom, Israel’s largest mobile phone operator, reported a wider quarterly net loss, weighed down by continued competition in the mobile sector and the coronavirus outbreak.

Cellcom said on Thursday it lost 43 million shekels ($12 million) in the first quarter, versus a 16 million shekel loss a year earlier.

Revenue fell 3.9% to 892 million shekels, though service revenue inched up 0.6%.

“Quarterly results were partially affected by the corona pandemic,” Chief Financial Officer Shlomi Fruhling said in a statement. “We expect a greater impact to be seen in the second quarter, and we expect the crisis to continue to adversely affect the company’s results through this year.”

The crisis has hurt revenues from roaming services of customers travelling overseas as well as roaming services of tourists travelling to Israel. In addition, there was a decrease in equipment sales.

Cellcom, which is in the process of trying to buy smaller rival Golan, said its cellular subscriber base dipped 3.7% in the quarter from a year earlier to 2.747 million but the number of customers to its TV service rose 8.4% to 246,000. The company opted not to pay a dividend this quarter. ($1 = 3.5134 shekels) (Reporting by Tova Cohen Editing by Steven Scheer)