Orange very resilient despite the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic
Revenues and EBITDAaL declined in the 2nd quarter of 2020, negatively impacted by the effects of the health crisis. In the 1st half overall, revenues continued to grow, with a very moderate decline in EBITDAaL.
Good commercial performance, deferred investments and cost control enable Orange to reiterate its objective of 2020 organic cash flow of more than 2.3 billion euros.
- In the 2nd quarter of 2020, revenues declined 0.4%1 , negatively impacted by the decline in roaming and equipment sales directly linked to the health crisis.
- France and Africa & Middle East rose 2.7% and 1.3% respectively year on year, almost completely offsetting the combined decline in other segments: Spain (-6.8%), Europe (-3.6%), Enterprise (-3.3%).
- In the 2nd quarter, EBITDAaL showed a limited decline of 1.8% year on year, negatively impacted by the cost of health measures, the decrease in roaming and a slight increase in provisions for bad debts. In the first half EBITDAaL declined just 0.8%.
- At June 30, 2020, consolidated net income stood at 1,016 million euros (compared with 1,137 million euros at June 30, 2019, on an historical basis).
- In the 1st half, the Group's eCAPEX declined 9.9% due to the significant increase in co-financing in France and asset disposals, in particular the disposal of non-strategic towers in Spain. This decrease is also explained by a slowdown of investment in mobile and traditional services which offset growth in FTTH investments, particularly in France, which was lower than expected following the health crisis.
- Organic cash flow from telecoms activities was 255 million euros, a 163 million euro increase year on year on an historical basis, due to the decline in eCAPEX and despite the measures taken to support the most vulnerable suppliers and service providers in France.
- In the first half, Orange recorded a significant uptick in co-financing which had a favourable effect on turnover, EBITDAaL and eCAPEX. These co-financing initiatives illustrate our ability to monetize our FTTH investments made in recent years.
These resilient results stem from the Group's strategy focused on greater connectivity and new growth areas, enabling us to increase our customer bases.
- Convergent offers totaled 10.8 million customers at June 30, 2020, up 2.1% year on year, allowing Orange to strengthen its position as the leading convergent operator in Europe.
- In fiber, despite the lockdown, Orange posted a record 2nd quarter in France with 238,000 net customer additions and strong growth in Poland with 44,000 net additions. At June 30, Orange had 8.1 million fiber customers.
- In Africa & Middle East, 4G deployment continues reaching 27.9 million customers in the 2nd quarter, growth of 40.4% year on year. Orange Money had 19.6 million active customers in the 2nd quarter, up 18.9%.
- As of June 30, 2020, Orange Bank had a total of 1 million customers, following the integration of Orange Courtage and the expansion of its offer in Spain. In becoming an insurance broker, the bank took a further step in its cross-selling policy with Orange France.
In line with the "Engage 2025" plan, Orange signed a long-term electricity purchasing agreement with Boralex, a pioneer in renewable energy and the leading independent producer of onshore wind energy in France. This contract for 67 GWh per year covers nearly 3% of Orange’s electricity consumption in France.
For the financial year 2020, Orange confirms that it does not foresee any significant deviation with respect to its financial objectives:
- Given current information and currently anticipated trajectories, the Group now expects a slight decline in 2020 EBITDAaL of about 1% including all the effects linked to the Covid-19 pandemic. It should be noted that, excluding the Covid-19 impact, EBITDAaL would have been “flat positive” as expected.
- Given delays in investments to date, eCAPEX will be lower, offsetting the decline in EBITDAaL.
- Therefore, the Group's EBITDAaL less eCAPEX will be stable in 2020.
- The Group's commitment to exceed 2.3 billion euros in organic cash flow from telecoms activities remains unchanged.
- The objective for a net debt to EBITDAaL ratio for telecoms activities of around 2x in the medium term is maintained.
For the 2021-2023 period, Orange confirms its financial objectives as announced during the investor day on December 4, 2019.
Orange will pay an interim dividend of 0.30 euros in cash on December 9, 2020. The decision on the final amount of the 2020 dividend will be announced between the results publication dates for the 3rd and 4th quarters of 2020. A distribution of 0.70 euros per share remains the Group's objective, including for the 2020 fiscal year, the final decision will be taken at a later date, depending on the situation.
Commenting on the publication of the 1st half 2020 results, Stéphane Richard, Chairman and CEO of the Orange Group, said:
"Orange has shown a remarkable level of resistance in the first half of the year, despite the effects of the Covid-19 pandemic, with a 0.3% increase in revenues and a contained decrease in EBITDAaL of 0.8%. These results bear witness to our business’ resilience and its capacity for collective mobilisation in the face of this crisis.
In France, in spite of the restrictions due to the pandemic, our commercial dynamic is good, in particular in fiber: indeed we delivered a second-quarter record of 238,000 net additions. Our customers’ appetite for fiber confirms the validity of our investment strategy and we are continuing our deployment with a view to building as many connection points in 2020 as we did in 2019 notwithstanding the unprecedented health context.
In Spain, where the situation remains challenging given the market’s slide towards low cost, we have adapted our positioning and enlarged the range of our offers: a strategy that is now showing its first results.
In Africa and in the Middle East, revenues grew 3.8% in the first half and EBITDAaL rose by more than 7%: an excellent performance driven by mobile data (with a 40% increase in 4G customers year on year), by broadband and by Orange Money, that will be further strengthened by last week’s launch of Orange Bank Africa.
Even though Orange has proven to be more vital than ever to its business customers over these past months, the health crisis has impacted our results in B2B. I would, however, point to the very good performance of Orange Cyberdefense and Orange Cloud for Business where revenues grew by 11% and 8% in the first half.
This crisis has revealed the strategic nature of telecoms networks for our economies and even society as a whole. While impacted, we are comforted in the strategic choices we made with Engage 2025, the roll-out of which we will be accelerating, whether this be through mastering our carbon footprint, the deployment and optimisation of our infrastructures or the development of our growth territories.
I’d like to conclude by extending my warm thanks to all of Orange’s teams who have been fully mobilised throughout the crisis to serve our customers."
The entire press release is available on PDF file
This press release contains forward-looking statements about Orange’s financial situation and results of operations. Although we believe these statements are based on reasonable assumptions, they are subject to numerous risks and uncertainties, including matters not yet known to us or not currently considered material by us, and there can be no assurance that anticipated events will occur or that the objectives set out will actually be achieved. In particular, the consequences of the Covid-19 outbreak are uncertain and the health crisis may exacerbate the risks that the Group faces. More detailed information on the potential risks that could affect our financial results is included in the Registration Document filed on 20 April 2020 with the French Financial Markets Authority (AMF) and in the annual report (Form 20-F) filed on 21 April 2020 with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made. Other than as required by law, Orange does not undertake any obligation to update them in light of new information or future developments.
1 Unless otherwise stated, changes are on a comparable basis.