Malaysia's Axiata says Q4 net profit up 4.9 pct

KUALA LUMPUR Thu Feb 21, 2013 12:12am EST

KUALA LUMPUR Feb 21 (Reuters) - Malaysia's Axiata Group Bhd , Asia's third-largest mobile services group outside Japan and China by subscribers, said on Thursday that its fourth-quarter net profit had risen 4.9 percent, boosted by higher earnings at all of its operating companies.

Net profit rose to 571.1 million ringgit in the quarter ended Dec. 31 from 544.6 million ringgit a year earlier, the company said in a filing to the local stock exchange. The result beat the average estimate of a 419.23 million ringgit profit in a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S poll of two analysts.

Revenue climbed 4.7 percent year-on-year to 4.5 billion ringgit.

The company announced a 0.27 ringgit dividend.

"We have also lately seen increased competition, especially in Indonesia, and this will continue to be one of our biggest challenges in 2013," Axiata's president and group CEO Jamaludin Ibrahim said in a statement.

Net profit for 2012 rose 7.2 percent to 2.51 billion ringgit. Revenue climbed 8.4 percent year on year, according to the filing. The average estimate among 26 analysts in a Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S poll was for a full-year profit of 2.73 billion ringgit.

"We remain concerned over XL Axiata's aggressive capital expenditure ambitions, which have yet to produce the desired returns from data," Lim Tee Yang, analyst at Kuala Lumpur-based RHB Research, wrote in a report on Wednesday.

"Hence, we believe earnings growth for XL remains challenging and therefore, growth for Axiata will likely moderate in 2013," Lim wrote.

Axiata shares were down 0.2 percent on Thursday, outperforming the Malaysian benchmark stock index's 0.6 percent drop. (Reporting By Yantoultra Ngui and Al-Zaquan Amer Hamzah; Additional reporting by Patturaja Murugaboopathy in Bangalore; Editing by Chris Gallagher)

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