March 6, 2018 / 11:17 PM / 10 months ago

UPDATE 1-Brazil's TIM projects solid margin growth, flat capital spending

(Adds details throughout on TIM's capital expenditure plans, revenue projections)

SAO PAULO, March 6 (Reuters) - Brazilian wireless carrier TIM Participações SA forecast strong revenue growth along with tight cost controls and fairly modest capital expenditures in a three-year investment plan released on Tuesday.

In the plan, the company projected 12 billion reais ($3.7 billion) in capital spending through 2020, in line with 2017 and slightly down from 2016.

The company said operating expenses should grow slower than inflation over the next three years, helping to lift earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) to more than 40 percent of net revenue by 2020. Revenue growth, which was roughly flat in 2017, should grow 5 to 7 percent a year, the company said.

The plan, released alongside a strategy plan by parent Telecom Italia SpA, largely reaffirmed the Brazilian unit's ongoing strategy of expanding quickly in high-end broadband and mobile segments, while cutting costs and investing selectively to keep capital and operational costs down.

TIM Participações has been an analyst and investor favorite, with its shares jumping over 70 percent in 2017 as solid cost control and a focus on high-end consumers boosted profits. Its 2018 to 2020 plan will likely test the sustainability of its "more with less" strategy in a capital-intensive business.

As part of the plan, TIM plans to aggressively expand its fiber-to-the-home (FTTH) service, a type of ultra fast broadband, to a total of 13 cities, up from two cities currently.

The company also said it expects to expand its 4G service to at least 4,000 cities by 2020, bringing 4G coverage to 96 percent of Brazil's urban population.

$1 = 3.21 reais Reporting by Gram Slattery Editing by Diane Craft and Lisa Shumaker

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