Orange Group revenues rose 0.7% in the first quarter, driven by Africa & Middle East (+8.7%). Growth in retail services was well above the decline in Wholesale services. In France, the faster pace of retail services growth has yet to offset the decline in Wholesale, while revenues fell slightly, by 0.7%.
Revenues in Spain remained lower, by 4.6%, but retail services continued to improve. The other European countries were stable. Revenues from Totem (for which this is the first reporting quarter) and from Enterprise grew by 12.2% and 0.8% respectively.
EBITDA rose 1.0% in the first quarter, outpacing the rise in revenues; this performance provides further comfort to the 2022 target of a 2.5% to 3% increase since growth will accelerate at the end of the year. eCAPEX fell by 5.8% in the first quarter.
From a commercial standpoint, the Group is consolidating its leadership in convergence with 11.6 million customers across Europe, on the one hand thanks to the continuous improvement in customer satisfaction – notably reflected in the reduced churn rate across Europe – and on the other hand to the quality of its fiber network, to which more than half of the Group’s fixed-line customers in France are now connected.
In a context of re-emerging inflation, the Group is taking all corrective measures to confirm its financial objectives for 2022, a milestone towards the achievement of its 2023 commitments:
- EBITDAaL to increase by 2.5% to 3%
- eCAPEX no greater than 7.4 billion euros
- Organic cash flow from telecoms activities of at least 2.9 billion euros
- Net debt/EBITDAaL ratio for telecoms activities unchanged at around 2x in the medium term
- Maintained dividend for 2022 at 70 euro cents including an interim dividend of 30 euro cents in December 2022
Commenting on the publication of these results, Christel Heydemann, Chief Executive Officer of the Orange Group, said:
“Having taken on my role as CEO a few weeks ago, it’s with pride and enthusiasm that I take on the challenges that lie ahead and to continue to build Orange into a digital world leader. In this first quarter, Orange has once again delivered a solid performance with higher revenues, improved margins and the confirmation that we’re on track to achieve our 2022 targets in spite of the particularly uncertain environment.
We continue to reap the benefits of our European fiber and 5G network leadership with a 2% rise in our retail sales growth in these first three months. We now have 11.6 million convergent customers in Europe and over half of Orange’s fixed broadband customers in France are now fiber connected – a landmark achievement on which we will continue to build.
Totem, our towerco subsidiary – whose numbers we’re publishing for the first time – is a top-quality asset of great value-creating potential. Meanwhile, Africa & Middle East continues to be our main growth driver, again delivering a remarkable performance, with most African countries producing double-digit growth thanks to new telecoms services that are off-setting the heightened competition for Orange Money.
Spain remains our most challenging market, and we’re pressing ahead with our stand-alone programmes aimed at restoring growth. I’m also pleased to note our exclusive discussions on combining our operations with those of Masmovil. This operation would lead to the creation of a sustainable player with the investment capacity, infrastructure and competitive edge necessary for its future development and for the benefit of both consumers and businesses in Spain.
In the B2B market, the transition to IT services represents and profound evolution of the business that we are fully committed to achieving.
These results are testament to a company with extraordinary assets, not least our talented people all around the world.
As the newly appointed CEO it’s with a sense of determination and responsibility that I approach both our challenges and our many opportunities. These results demonstrate our ability to grow in a tough environment and also represent a strong foundation not only for the rest of 2022, but also for the longer term.”
Orange Group revenues totaled 10,582 million euros in the first quarter of 2022, a rise of 0.7% year on year (+71 million euros). Growth was driven by retail services, which rose by 2.0% (+149 million euros), while wholesale services declined by 6.8% (-129 million euros), notably due to the reduction in the regulated call termination rate.
Africa & Middle East was once again the main contributor to this growth, with a year-on-year increase of 8.7% (+133 million euros). Totem and Enterprise also grew, by 12.2% and 0.8% respectively. Revenues in France declined by 0.7% despite the continued faster pace of retail services revenue growth, which has yet to offset the decline in Wholesale.
Revenues in Spain remained lower, by 4.6%, but retail services there continued their improvement. The other European countries were stable.
Customer base growth
There were 11.6 million convergent customers Group-wide at 31 March 2022, up 1.6% year on year. Mobile services had 231.8 million access lines at 31 March 2022, a rise of 5.3% year on year, including 88.3 million contracts, an increase of 8.0% year on year.
Fixed services totaled 46.2 million access lines at 31 March 2022 (1.9% lower year on year), including 12.8 million very high-speed broadband access lines, which continued their strong growth (+19.6% year on year). Fixed narrowband access lines were down 13.4% year on year.
Mobile Financial Services had nearly 1.8 million customers in Europe and 0.8 million customers in Africa.
Group EBITDA stood at 2,620 million euros at 31 March 2022 (+1.0%). An acceleration in this growth trend is expected in the second half of the year due to a favorable underlying effect linked to the employee shareholding program, which weighed heavily on EBITDA in the final quarter of 2021. The first quarter’s performance is therefore in line with our objective of EBITDA growth of 2.5% to 3% for the full year 2022. EBITDA from telecoms activities was 2,646 million euros (+0.9%).
Group eCAPEX amounted to 1,610 million euros in the first quarter of 2022, sharply down 5.8% year on year due to the catch-up effect in the first quarter of 2021. This trend is in line with the objective of eCAPEX below 7.4 billion euros for the full year 2022.
At 31 March 2022, Orange had 58.5 million households connectable to FTTH worldwide (an increase of 17.7% year on year). In France, the FTTH customer base rose 23.0%.
Retail services stabilized
Revenues in Europe were down 2.0% in the first quarter, mainly due to the decline in low-margin wholesale activities (-10.8% or -52 million euros) linked to call terminations and international traffic. Excluding Spain, revenues were stable.
Retail services revenues stabilized at -0.1% (after declining 4.5% in the first quarter 2021 and 1.8% in the fourth quarter 2021). Strong performances in Belgium and Poland offset the decline in Spain.
This result is the fruit of the convergence strategy and the constant quest for the best financial balance between value and volumes. It also reflects the ongoing efforts on customer experience, which improved the churn rate year on year (for both mobile and fixed-line).
In Romania, the integration of TKR is progressing and the first quarter was marked by the adoption of the “Orange Romania Communications” brand in March and the marketing of convergent offers under the Orange brand in April.
In Spain, revenues were down 4.6% in the first quarter. Retail services continued their improving trend and were down 4.0% (compared to -5.4% in the fourth quarter 2021 and -7.9% in the third quarter). Conversely, the low-margin activities of equipment sales and international traffic declined.
In a market that is still fiercely competitive, especially in the low-cost segment, Orange Spain continued to improve its convergent ARPO trend in the first quarter (down 0.3% compared with decline of 1.8% in the fourth quarter 2021), albeit at the cost of slightly negative net additions.
A disciplined promotional policy and efforts to prioritize the customer experience enabled a reduction in the churn rate on convergent offers by four points in one year.