UPDATE 1-Sweden's Tele2 sees earnings growth in 2021 after narrow Q4 profit beat

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STOCKHOLM, Feb 2 (Reuters) - Swedish telecom operator Tele2 said on Tuesday it expected core earnings to grow this year after posting quarterly profit just above market forecasts.

The firm predicted roughly flat end-user service revenue and adjusted operating earnings (EBITDAaL) growth of 2-4% compared to 2020, assuming international roaming at a similar level.

Tele2, which maintained its mid-term financial outlook, added it expected capital expenditure, excluding spectrum and leases, of 2.8 billion to 3.3 billion crowns this year, including 5G roll-out in all its markets.

“While our experience from 2020 gives us confidence that we are well equipped to handle the challenges in the year ahead, we do not expect to go back to business as usual yet,” Chief Executive Kjell Johnsen said in a statement.

Fourth-quarter adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) were 2.66 billion Swedish crowns ($316 million) versus 2.64 billion in the year-earlier quarter and a 2.58 billion mean forecast, according to Refinitiv data.

Tele2 said it would propose a dividend of 6.00 crowns per share for 2020 versus a mean forecast of 6.75 crowns.

The firm distributed an extraordinary dividend in October of 3.50 crowns per share, which originally had been withdrawn in April due to the COVID-19 pandemic but later reinstated.

Tele2 added that its restructuring program would deliver a run-rate of roughly half the target of 1 billion crowns of cost savings by the end of 2021. ($1 = 8.4147 Swedish crowns) (Reporting by Helena Soderpalm, editing by Supantha Mukherjee and Niklas Pollard)