Q3 net profit at Thailand's AIS up 42 pct

BANGKOK Wed Nov 7, 2012 5:09am EST

BANGKOK Nov 7 (Reuters) - Advanced Info Service Pcl (AIS) , Thailand's top mobile phone operator, reported a 42 percent rise in quarterly net profit on Wednesday as the popularity of smartphones and social networks boosted demand for data services.

AIS, 21 percent owned by Singapore Telecommunications Ltd , posted a net profit of 8.79 billion baht ($286 million) for the July-September period, up from 6.17 billion a year earlier. The result was in line with the average forecast of 8.7 billion baht from 11 analysts polled by Reuters.

AIS, Southeast Asia's biggest wireless firm by market value, has about 50 percent of the market in Thailand, ahead of the 30 percent held by Total Access Communication .

Shares in AIS, valued at $18.6 billion, have underperformed the market in the past month due to concerns about an investigation into a 3G spectrum auction in October, which could lead to delays of 3G services.

($1 = 30.75 baht)

(Reporting by Khettiya Jittapong; Editing by Matt Driskill)