France Telecom's Sales, Operating Profit Beat Forecasts


France Telecom posted forecast-beating third-quarter sales and underlying profits on Thursday, helped by stronger than expected sales in the UK and Spain and continued cost discipline.

France's leading telecoms operator made earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of 5.094 billion euros ($7.25 billion) in the three months to Sept.30, compared with expectations of 4.914 billion euros, based on a Reuters poll of 10 analysts.

The fixed-line, mobile and high-speed Internet connection provider raised its 2007 target for organic cash generation to 7.5 billion euros from 6.8 billion euros and said its EBITDA margin would be stable this year.

Previously, it had said it expected the EBITDA margin to "nearly stabilise."

France Telecom said it had put 755 million euros in escrow after a European court ruling of Oct. 18 which, if confirmed in 2008, could force the operator to repay the funds to the French state as a refund of certain tax benefits.

The operator said it expected its full-year operational performance to be in line with nine-month results.