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Bouygues Third-Quarter Profit Jumps 36%

Thursday, 7 Dec 2006 | 4:50 AM ET

French construction and telecom company Bouygues said Thursday strong growth in its construction and road building businesses boosted profit by 36% in the third quarter.

The Paris-based building-to-broadcasting conglomerate posted net income of 358 million euros ($476 million) in the three months through September, up from 264 million euros in the same period a year earlier, the company said in a statement. That's above analysts' forecasts of 320.8 million euros ($426.9 million).

Bouygues -- which said last week it had raised its stake in French engineering group Alstom to just over 25% -- also reported better-than-expected growth in third quarter operating profit to 608 million euros ($809 million), on an already reported 10% rise in revenue to 7.08 billion euros ($9.42 billion).

Bouygues Telecom -- France's number three mobile telecoms operator in which Bouygues owns an 89.5% stake -- reported earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization of 962 million euros ($1.28 billion) for the nine months through September, down from 1.04 billion euros a year earlier. It did not report a third-quarter EBITDA for the division.

Its EBITDA margin, a closely watched indicator of telecom firms' profitability, fell 2.5 percentage points to 30.9%. Analysts had forecast a decline because of aggressive spending by Bouygues Telecom on customer acquisition.

Bouygues said that for the full year, the decline in Bouygues Telecom's EBITDA margin will be around 3 percentage points.

Bouygues raised its outlook for group revenue this year to 26.16 billion euros ($34.81 billion), up from its previous forecast of 25.95 billion euros ($34.53 billion) and above the 24 billion euros it made in 2005.

In the statement, Bouygues board named Patrick Kron, Alstom's chairman and chief executive, to its board of directors.

The two companies have created a joint venture to build and service hydroelectric power plants and plan to cooperate on other infrastructure projects.

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