UPDATE 2-Poste Italiane Q4 revenue rises on parcels, payments

(Adds shares, analysts’ comments)

MILAN, Feb 17 (Reuters) - Poste Italiane reported better than expected fourth quarter results on Wednesday, with stronger parcel delivery and payments volumes boosting revenue.

Revenue at the state-controlled conglomerate - which comprises insurance and financial divisions, a traditional mail and parcel business and a digital payments unit - rose 1.4% in the fourth quarter, to 3 billion euros, beating the 2.9 billion euro consensus forecast provided by the group.

Costs held steady despite one-off charges stemming from the pandemic and the funding of early retirements.

“An increase in parcel revenue has more than offset a decline in mail revenue, confirming parcels as a strategic pillar for the sustainability of the logistics business,” CEO Matteo Del Fante said in a statement.

Its smaller payments and mobile division reported a 15% increase in revenue in the fourth quarter on higher digital payments.

Quarterly earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) rose 19.6% to 280 million euros thanks to financial services, topping the 235 million expected analysts in a consensus published by the company.

“Results came in better than expected, with top-line growth driven by secular trends in parcel and digital payments,” analysts at Intesa Sanpaolo IMI said.

Poste Italiane shares jumped almost 4% in early trade but had pared back gains to 0.52% by 0850 GMT. Milan’s main stock index was down 0.2%.

Since the beginning of February Poste’s shares have risen by around 19% boosted by the positive impact on the country’s debt costs of a high profile government led by former ECB president Mario Draghi.

A Milan-based trader said Wednesday’s “good numbers bode well for the March plan”.

The company will present its new business plan on March 19.

Poste Italiane proposed a dividend of 0.486 euros a share, up 5% from a year earlier, in line with its payout policy.

Reporting by Elisa Anzolin; editing by Valentina Za and Jason Neely