Latin America-focused operator group Millicom cited healthy organic growth in its core business, although currency and accounting impacts took their toll in 2018.
The company is anticipating “another solid year” in 2019, marked by the continued expansion of its high-speed data networks and customer growth. For its LatAm segment it expects organic service revenue growth in the 3 per cent to 5 per cent range, while EBITDA growth is expected to be between 4 per cent and 6 per cent.
“I am extremely pleased by our strong performance in 2018 on many fronts. We delivered on all our operational and financial targets, and we made great strides toward increasing our focus on LatAm by divesting our operations in Rwanda and Senegal and acquiring Cable Onda in Panama,” Mauricio Ramos, CEO, said.
Millicom does still have some operations in Africa (Tanzania and Chad).
Trading in Millicom’s shares on the Nasdaq stock market began in January.
It reported a Q4 net loss of $94 million compared with a prior-year profit of $69 million, on revenue which declined 4.4 per cent to $1 billion.
The top-line decline was attributed to the impact of weaker currencies in the majority of its markets and the adoption of new accounting standards.
Operating expense increased 14 per cent year-on-year to $460 million, due to around $50 million of charges related to the Cable Onda acquisition, as well as its US market listing and the restructure of its regional Africa operations.
Its operating income was also hit by lower gains on the sale of tower assets when compared with Q4 2017.
For the full year, the company reported a net loss of $10 million, compared with a prior-year profit of $86 million, on revenue which was flat at $4.1 billion.
The Latin America operations added 3.2 million 4G customers in 2018, exceeding its own 3 million goal, and at the end of the period it had a total of 32.4 million business-to-consumer mobile customers. Around 52 per cent of these used data services.
It also touted customer growth in its cable operations. It exceeded its target of 400,000 customer relationships (upped from earlier guidance of 300,000) with a total of 406,000.
So far, 2019 has already seen Millicom subject to acquisition interest from Liberty Latin America, although this came to an end without an offer being made.Subscribe to our daily newsletter