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UPDATE 1-Portugal NOS' quarterly profit more than doubles despite pandemic

(Adds financial details, CEO comment)

LISBON, March 10 (Reuters) - Portuguese telecoms firm NOS posted on Wednesday a fourth-quarter net profit of 12.9 million euros ($15.4 million), more than double what it netted a year ago, as its core revenues and client numbers rose despite the COVID-19 pandemic.

NOS, whose businesses include cable television and cinemas, made a profit of 5.4 million euros in the year-earlier quarter.

While consolidated revenues fell over 3% to 354 million euros in the quarter from a year ago, mostly weighed down by cinemas that were either shut or stood largely empty due to the pandemic, revenue from its core telecommunications business increased 1% to 350 million euros.

Even as consolidated earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) decreased by 2.9% to 132 million euros, NOS’ EBITDA margin - a key measure of profitability - improved 0.2 percentage point to 37.3%, the company said.

Chief Executive Officer Miguel Almeida said that “the resilience of NOS networks and its business model responded fully to the challenges” imposed by the coronavirus pandemic.

“Our ability to adapt and maintain business continuity with minimal levels of disruption has brought us closer to our customers,” he said in a statement.

NOS added 186,600 mobile telecoms customers compared with a year ago, for a total of about 5.04 million at the end of December, and its revenue generating units (RGU) - either individuals or businesses - rose by 2.9% to 9.96 million.

The company said its full-year 2020 net profit fell 36% to 92 million euros and its consolidated EBITDA decreased 5.7% to 603.2 million euros.

The board proposed a gross dividend of 0.278 euro per share, equal to that of 2019, which has yet to be approved by the general shareholders’ meeting.

Capex, excluding leasing contracts, increased 2.8% and reached 384.9 million euros in 2020. Net financial debt fell 26.7% to 802 million euros last year, or 1.5 times the EBITDA after leasings, “a conservative ratio compared to peers in the sector”, NOS said.

$1 = 0.8405 euros Reporting by Sergio Goncalves; Editing by Andrei Khalip and Peter Cooney

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