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Navigation firm TomTom sees broadly flat 2024 sales on subdued auto sector

FILE PHOTO: TomTom navigation are seen in front of TomTom displayed logo in this illustration taken

By Gaelle Sheehan and Augustin Turpin

(Reuters) - TomTom sees broadly flat sales this year as the digital mapping specialist's auto sector clients grapple with subdued demand.

However, its shares rose 7% in early Friday trade after its fourth-quarter operating loss widened less than expected.

TomTom, whose customers include Volkswagen and Hyundai, had been benefiting from a backlog in auto orders after extended supply disruptions, but that could be changing as inflation-weary consumers delay purchases of new cars.

"I think we need to be a little bit careful of all macroeconomic development and car demand that could fluctuate a little bit this year," CEO Harold Goddijn told Reuters, while adding he was optimistic about the year overall.

The Amsterdam-based company ended 2023 with a record automotive order backlog of 2.5 billion euros ($2.7 billion).

It expects revenues of 570 million to 610 million euros this year, compared with the 584.8 million recorded in 2023.

The midpoint of the guidance at 590 million euros is below analysts' consensus forecast of 598 million in a company poll.

Shipping disruptions due to militant attacks on container ships in the Red Sea have dealt a fresh blow to global supply chains, and Goddijn said that could cause some challenges in 2024. However, he did not expect any major issues.

The location data pioneer that competes with Alphabet's Google Maps among others reported a fourth-quarter loss before interest and taxes of 10.4 million euros, versus a loss of 4.5 million a year earlier.

That included a 10 million euro restructuring charge from further streamlining research and development activities, Chief Financial Officer Taco Titulaer said in a statement.

Analysts had expected a quarterly operating loss of 12 million euros.

($1 = 0.9192 euros)

(Reporting by Gaëlle Sheehan and Augustin Turpin in Gdansk; Editing by Milla Nissi and Mark Potter)