Revenue growth primarily driven by strong performance in Africa & Middle East
Financial information at 31 March 2021
Orange group revenues were up 0.5% (1) in Q1 2021 thanks to the recovery of equipment sales and an excellent performance in fixed broadband and IT & Integration services.
Growth was primarily driven by Africa & Middle East, which posted its best first quarterly performance in 10 years (up 7.1%), and by Other European countries (2) (up 2.2%). The Enterprise segment returned to modest growth (+0.4%), while France was resilient (-0.2%) and Spain remained markedly negative (-7.4%).
Group EBITDAaL edged down very slightly (-0.3%) in a quarter impacted by the health crisis throughout, which was not the case in Q1 2020.
Q1 eCAPEX was in line with the Group’s targets for 2021. This increased by 12.4% versus Q1 2020, mainly due to Network investments and fewer asset disposals.
Orange again delivered a very robust commercial performance, setting a new record for first-quarter FttH net adds.
IT & Integration services posted strong growth, including 16% year-on-year revenue growth at Orange Cyberdefense.
5G packages are now available in five countries. In France, Orange now covers 239 municipalities with 5G.
Commenting on the publication of these results, Stéphane Richard, Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of the Orange group, said:
“In spite of the effects of the health crisis which remained significant in the first quarter, the Group demonstrated its resilience, maintaining revenue growth (+0.5%) and stabilizing EBITDAal (-0.3%). Revenues in particular were sustained by the remarkable performance in Africa and the Middle East where Orange posted growth of more than 7% and passed the threshold of 130 million mobile customers. Growth reached 2.2% in the Europe segment excluding the Spanish market where recovery remains a priority. The Enterprise segment continues to improve following the difficulties faced in the second half of 2020 resulting from the first lockdown period. IT and integration services also advanced strongly, primarily in Cloud Computing, and Digital and Data, which saw annual revenue increases of 5% and 11% respectively.
In France our commercial performance was very solid and we set a new record for net FttH sales in a first quarter, which allowed us to reach almost 5 million fiber customers. In addition, Orange Bank now has 1.5 million customers in Europe and over 500,000 customers in Africa.
Our 5G services are already available in five countries with France now offering coverage in 239 municipalities. Strong demand for 5G-compatible smartphones augers well for the adoption of this new technology by our customers.
Thanks to the signing of a Fiberco project partnership in Poland, we are continuing to roll-out our infrastructure strategy, just as we have done with Orange Concessions and Totem, our European TowerCo. All the objectives that we announced in this regard a year ago will be delivered as planned and under excellent financial conditions.
Finally, I'm proud to be able to underline that Orange has continued to show it can rise to its responsibilities in the face of the health crisis thanks to the power of its networks and the commitment of its employees, to whom I extend my warmest thanks.”
Comments on Group key figures
Orange group revenues reached 10.3 billion euros in Q1 2021, up +0.5% year-on-year on a comparable basis despite the health crisis, which impacted the entire quarter, as opposed to just two weeks in Q1 2020. Growth was fueled by equipment sales, which were up +10.8%, fixed broadband services, up +5.3%, and IT and integration services, up +5.1%. In contrast, roaming revenue was down sharply (-31.1% year-on-year) as a result of ongoing travel restrictions.
Africa & Middle East, where revenue increased by +7.1%, was the main driver of this growth. Poland also performed well, with growth of +4.1%.
Customer base growth
There were 11.13 million convergent customers Group-wide at March 31, 2021, up +2.8% year-on-year.
Mobile services recorded 216.6 million access lines at March 31, 2021, up +1.2% year-on-year, including 78.0 million contracts, up +0.9%.
Fixed services had 45.0 million access lines at March 31, 2021, down -0.3% year-on-year. The number of fixed narrowband access lines was down -3.5%, while the number of very high-speed fixed broadband access lines continued to grow (+6.2%), delivering very good results, particularly in France and Poland.
Mobile financial services expanded their customer base, integrating nearly 300,000 business customers. This brought the total to 1.5 million customers in Europe and over 500,000 for Orange Bank Africa.
Group EBITDAaL amounted to 2.56 billion euros in Q1 2021, down -0.3% with roaming revenues declining 42 million euros year on year.
EBITDAaL from telecom activities was 2.59 billion euros, down -0.6%.
Group eCAPEX for the first quarter reached 1.8 billion euros, up 194 million euros mainly due to the reduction in asset disposals, but also owing to the ramp-up in investments that were slowed in Q1 2020 as a result of the health crisis. The acceleration was particularly marked in France and Africa & Middle East.
As of March 31, 2021, Orange recorded 49.3 million households worldwide connectable to FttH (up 22.2% year-on-year) and over 50 million households connectable to very high-speed broadband (FttH and cable).
In Q1 2021 Orange continued to roll out its infrastructure strategy as set out in its Engage 2025 plan. Following the creation of Orange Concessions in January 2021 and the launch of its European TowerCo TOTEM in February, the Group announced on April 12, 2021 the creation of a FiberCo in Poland that will support the rollout of optical fiber in areas with limited or no access to very high-speed infrastructure. The FiberCo, valued at launch at 605 million euros, will include 2.4 million lines, including 1.7 million to be rolled out over the coming five years.
Changes in asset portfolio
There were no significant changes in the asset portfolio in Q1 2021.
Following its announcement on December 2, 2020, on April 8, 2021 Orange SA launched a conditional voluntary public tender offer to purchase a 47.09% equity stake in Orange Belgium at a price of 22 euros per share. The offer, the prospectus for which has been approved by the Belgian Financial Services and Markets Authority (FSMA), will be open until April 23, 2021.
Outlook for 2021
The Group is maintaining its financial targets for 2021 as announced on February 18, 2021, namely:
- stable but negative EBITDAaL,
- eCAPEX of 7.6-7.7 billion euros,
- organic cash flow from telecoms activities over 2.2 billion euros,
- ratio of net debt to EBITDAaL for telecoms activities maintained at around 2x in the medium term.
As a reminder, these targets take into account the allocation of the 2.2 billion euro tax refund received at the end of 2020 after the French Council of State found in the Group’s favor in a long-running tax dispute, which is intended to generate added value for the Group in the long term but will have an impact on short-term targets.
As already announced, in respect of 2020, the Annual General Shareholders’ Meeting of May 18, 2021 will vote on a dividend payment of 0.70 euros per share plus 0.20 euros per share linked to the French Council of State’s favorable decision in the matter of a long-running tax dispute as mentioned above. Taking into account the 0.40 euro interim dividend paid on December 9, 2020, the balance of the dividend to be proposed to the AGM will be 0.50 euros per share, to be paid in cash on June 17, 2021. The ex-dividend date will be June 15, 2021.
In respect of the 2021 financial year, a dividend of 0.70 euros per share will be proposed to the 2022 Annual General Shareholders’ Meeting. An interim dividend of 0.30 euros per share will be paid in December 2021.
1/ Unless otherwise stated, changes are on a comparable basis.
2/ Europe excluding Spain
The Board of Directors of Orange SA met on April 21, 2021 to review the consolidated financial results for the three months to March 31, 2021.
More detailed information on the Group’s financial results and performance indicators is available on the Orange website https://www.orange.com/en/consolidated-results.