UPDATE 2-Mobily quarterly profit tops forecast
(Adds CEO comment)
RIYADH Oct 20 (Reuters) - Etihad Etisalat, Saudi's No.2 telecom company, beat forecasts with a 23 percent rise in quarterly net profit, helped by higher revenue from business and data units and rising sales of smartphones.
Khalid al-Kaf, chief executive of Etihad Etisalat which trades as Mobily and is an affiliate of UAE operator Etisalat , told Reuters he expected the data business to grow its share of group earnings from 26 percent.
"What we accomplished in the past six months in terms of data volumes is more than what we saw over the past five years," Kaf said on Saturday.
The company is spending 4.0-4.5 billion riyals ($1.1-$1.2 billion) expanding its 3G, 4G and fibre networks, "and that trend will continue," he said.
Mobily - which competes with Saudi Telecom Co, the Gulf's No.1 operator, and also Zain Saudi which is part-owned by Kuwaiti group Zain - made a third-quarter net profit of 1.51 billion riyals, compared with a forecast for 1.44 billion in a Reuters poll.
Operating income rose 23 percent to 1.57 billion riyals.
It will pay a 1 riyal dividend from third-quarter profit.
In September, Mobily said it had signed agreements with several mobile virtual network operators (MVNO) about hosting one of them on its network. ($1 = 3.7502 Saudi riyals) (Reporting By Angus McDowall and Asma Alsharif; Editing by Nick Macfie)
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