UPDATE 1-Oman telco Nawras extends profit slump for 4th quarter

Sun Jan 27, 2013 9:11am EST

* Q4 profit 10.3 mln rials vs 11.9 mln rials a yr ago

* Q4 revenue 51.4 mln rials vs 50.8 mln rials a yr ago

* Full-year profit 37 million rials, down 22.1 pct from 2011

* Blames drop on falling text and on-network call revenue

By Matt Smith

DUBAI, Jan 27 - Nawras, Oman's No.2 telecoms operator, posted a 13.4 percent drop in fourth-quarter profit, a fourth consecutive quarterly decline, as falling revenue from texts and on-network calls weighed on the bottom line.

Internet-based services such as instant messaging and Voice-Over-IP phone (VoIP) calls have hurt margins of Gulf telecoms companies as the region's large expatriate population has increasingly shifted away from conventional calls and texts to contact home.

Nawras, majority-owned by Qatar Telecom (Qtel), on Sunday reported a net profit of 10.3 million rials ($26.75 million) for the three months to Dec. 31, down from 11.9 million in the year-earlier quarter.

Annual profit for 2012 fell 22.1 percent to 37 million rials from the year before, it said in a statement. Full-year revenue dipped 1.7 percent to 193.5 million rials.

The profit slump comes even while Nawras's customer base increased 11 percent to 2.2 million.

"The decline in revenue is primarily driven by a reduction in SMS (text) and on-net voice revenue, partially offset by growth in both mobile and fixed data revenues," Nawras said.

For the fourth quarter, however, the company, which ended Oman Telecommunication Co's (Omantel) monopoly in 2005, reported revenue of 51.4 million rials, compared with 50.8 million rials a year ago.

($1 = 0.3850 Omani rials) (editing by Jane Baird)