4 de febrero de 2015 / 7:59 / en 3 años

UPDATE 2-KPN cautious on 2015 as competition heats up

* Adjusted EBITDA 669 million euros vs expected 641 million

* Sees EBITDA “stabilised” by year end

* Cash flow will be above 405 million euros in 2015

* CEO: no decision on Telefonica Deutschland stake (Updates with CEO quotes)

By Toby Sterling

AMSTERDAM, Feb 4 (Reuters) - Dutch telecoms group KPN said competition from cable companies and low-cost rivals made it difficult to forecast its performance for this year, after it posted a smaller than expected fall in fourth-quarter core earnings.

Chief Executive Eelco Blok said on Wednesday he expected core earnings to have “stabilised” by the end of 2015 and for cash flow to rise from an adjusted 405 million euros ($464 million) in 2014 -- enough to pay for a small dividend increase.

But he declined to promise sales or earnings would definitely rise, blaming competition from cable companies Ziggo and UPC, and from the impending roll-out of a rival 4G mobile internet service by low cost provider Tele2.

“We don’t want to be stuck so much in our outlook that we cannot respond to those developments,” Blok said.

Last month, KPN doubled the amount of data included in its mobile internet packages without raising prices -- a sign of ongoing price pressure.

The company said fourth-quarter adjusted earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) fell 3 percent year-on-year to 669 million euros, as a rise in consumer customers helped to offset a drop in business client revenues.

Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast EBITDA of 641 million euros ($729 million).

Citi analysts, with a “neutral” rating on the stock, said quarterly numbers were good, but 2015 guidance “disappointing.”

KPN shares rose 1.6 percent to 2.84 euros in Amsterdam.

The company’s performance underlines its halting return to stability after years of struggling with too much debt and shrinking revenue.

KPN was the target of a takeover bid by Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim’s America Movil in 2013, after KPN had overpaid for 4G mobile licences and its share price slumped.

KPN rejected Movil’s advances, issued new shares and sold German arm E-Plus for 5 billion euros and a 20.5 percent stake in Telefonica Deutschland.

America Movil retains a 24.8 percent stake in KPN.

Blok batted away questions about strategic partnerships.

“All options are open and we feel for the time being it is a good investment,” he said of the Telefonica Deutschland stake.

Last month Reuters reported that Deutsche Telekom had examined a bid for KPN in late 2014. Blok said he couldn’t comment on that.

“We have a financially healthy position, a commercially healthy position,” he said. “There’s no need at all for us to start talking to outside parties.”

However, he added he would listen to any proposals.

$1 = 0.8712 euros Editing by Gopakumar Warrier and Mark Potter

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