Telstra H1 rises 8.8 pct as mobile business grows

SYDNEY Wed Feb 6, 2013 4:55pm EST

SYDNEY Feb 7 (Reuters) - Telstra Corp, Australia's largest phone company, posted an 8.8 percent rise in first-half net profit as it attracted new customers to its mobile business.

Telstra, which sold its fixed-line assets to the government for A$11 billion to form the basis of a $38 billion National Broadband Network, posted a net profit of A$1.6 billion ($1.65 billion) compared with A$1.47 billion a year earlier.

Telstra is expected to post a net profit of almost A$3.7 billion in the year to June 30, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S. Most analysts do not provide half-early estimates.

Telstra affirmed its guidance to generate A$4.75-A$5.25 billion in free cash flow and post low single-digit growth in total income in 2013.

The company declared a dividend of 14 cents per share, unchanged from a year ago.

Telstra shares, which rose by almost one-third in 2012, hit a 3-1/2-year high this week and closed at A$4.58 on Wednesday. ($1 = 0.9691 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Lincoln Feast; Editing by John Mair)