Alcatel cuts losses, sees 2004 ‘breakeven’
PARIS, Feb 5 (AFP) - The French telecommunications giant Alcatel said Thursday it had sharply reduced its net loss in 2003 and that it should be close to the breakeven point in the first quarter of this year.
Alcatel, which has not posted a net profit since the fiscal year 2000, said net loss last year came to EUR 1.94 billion (USD 2.43 billion), a reduction of 59 percent from its loss of
EUR 4.74 billion one year earlier.
Operations showed a profit of EUR 332 million, compared with a loss of EUR 606 million in 2002.
“We expect Alcatel should resume growth in 2004, at a constant exchange rate,” chairman Serge Tchuruk said in a company statement.
The seasonally weak first quarter should already be close to breakeven, he added.
Although cost-cutting efforts were bearing fruit, “there is still potential for improving our operations to the extent of several points of operating profitability,” Tchuruk said.
“We have therefore decided to go ahead with the final phase of our restructuring,” which could include the elimination of 10 percent of Alcatel’s workforce of 60,000 by the end of 2004, he said.
The company shed 17,000 jobs last year.
Alcatel said sales slipped 21.9 percent in 2003 to EUR 12.51 billion, although for the fourth quarter it posted a 32 percent sales gain at constant exchange rates compared with the same period in 2002.
“We had an excellent last quarter,” commented financial director Jean-Pascal Beaufret during a telephone press conference.
“We estimate that the long period of restructuring came to an end in 2003, which explains the net result.”
Alcatel booked EUR 1.34 billion in restructuring charges for the year.
Its shares lost 1.84 percent to EUR 12.29 in early Paris trades on Thursday, while the CAC 40 index of leading shares was up 0.12 percent overall.
Subject: France news