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UPDATE 1-Telefonica 9-month profit down, reaches year-end debt target

Friday, 8 Nov 2013 | 2:29 AM ET

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MADRID, Nov 8 (Reuters) - Spanish telecom group Telefonica posted a 9 percent drop in 9-month net profit on Friday, hit by a weak home market and declining Latin American currencies, although it slightly beat analysts' forecasts.

The company - which this week reached a deal to sell its Czech unit, paid its first dividend in 18 months and opened the door to raising its investment in Telecom Italia - said net profit reached 3.145 billion euros ($4.2 billion) versus a Reuters poll for 2.997 billion euros.

Revenues also fell 8.4 percent to 42.626 billion euros while operating income before depreciation and amortization was down 10.7 percent to 14.1 billion euros.

Telefonica said there were signs of stabilization of the European market in the third quarter and that its strategy of focusing on cutting one of the highest debt loads among major European companies by selling non-core assets in Europe and Latin America would soon pay off.

The group said net debt stood at 46.101 billion euros at end-September, meeting the company's year-end target of a debt below 47 billion euros three months ahead of time.

It reiterated its guidance for revenue growth, improved operating margins, stable sales and investments and a 0.75 euros dividend for 2013.

($1 = 0.7472 euros)

(Reporting by Julien Toyer; Editing by Mark Potter)

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