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Tele Atlas fourth quarter core profit quadruples

From Automotive News| March 03,2007

Digital map supplier Tele Atlas said its fourth-quarter core profit quadrupled, driven by the success of portable car navigation devices.

Adjusted earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) rose to $27.8 million (21 million euros) from 5 million euros a year ago.

Revenue rose 43 percent to $109.4 million (82.8 million euros), the company said today.

Tele Atlas, based in the city of Den Bosch, supplies makers of navigation devices such as TomTom, the European market leader in portable route finders, Nokia and mapping Web sites such as Google Maps.

Tele Atlas said its revenue from maps for portable navigation devices doubled in 2006 from the previous year, adding it expected the total market for such devices to grow about 50 percent this year.

"The personal navigation market remains really the most important driver for our growth," CEO Alain De Taeye told journalists on a conference call, adding the company had a market share of more than 50 percent in that segment.

While device makers such as TomTom have seen selling prices fall rapidly, De Taeye said map prices had been broadly stable.

He said the market grew about 80 percent in 2006 while Tele Atlas' revenue in that segment doubled. "I think we have strong control over keeping prices stable," he said.

Tele Atlas forecast a 2007 adjusted EBITDA of about $89.5 million (65 million euros) on revenue of about $416.3 million (315 million euros).

Tele Atlas posted full-year 2006 core earnings of $57.9 million (43.8 million euros) on revenue of $349.4 million (264.3 million). The full-year net loss narrowed to $25.1 million (19 million euros) from 21.6 million euros in 2005.

Sales are expected to climb only 6.9 percent to 310,000 units in 2007, mainly due to capacity constraint.

The venture is building a second plant in Beijing to add 200,000-unit-a-year capacity by early 2008, and that would be boosted to 300,000 units a year by the end of the same year.

The China Daily also said Honda Motor, the number two Japanese auto maker, also planned to develop a non-Honda brand in its venture in south China, which currently makes Accord and Odyssey cars among other models.

The newspaper cited Fu Shoujie, executive vice president of venture, as saying that his company would own the intellectual property right to the new brand.

But Honda's spokesman in China discounted the report, saying the venture had not worked out any plans about its next move.

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