Qatar Telecom fourth-quarter profit rises 14.6 percent
DUBAI, March 3 - Qatar Telecom QTEL.QA reported a 14.6 percent rise in fourth-quarter profit on Sunday as higher revenue in its home market, Indonesia and Iraq offset declining earnings from Kuwaiti unit Wataniya (NMTC.KW) and Oman's Nawras NWRS.OM.
The former monopoly, which renamed itself ooredoo last week, made a net profit of 523 million Qatar riyals ($143.7 million) in the three months to December 31, up from 456 million in the year-earlier period, it said in an emailed statement.
Two analysts polled by Reuters had forecast ooredoo would make a quarterly profit of between 761 million riyals and 1.02 billion.
Ooredoo, which operates in 16 countries across the Middle East, Africa and Asia, said it would pay a cash dividend of 5 riyals per share.
Full-year domestic revenue rose 9 percent to exceed 6 billion riyals, ooredoo said, without stating a precise figure, while revenue from Indonesia unit Indosat increased 3 percent to 8.8 billion.
Full-year group revenue reached 33.7 billion riyals, up 6.2 percent from 2011.
Ooredoo has spent about $3.9 billion in the past 12 months upping its stakes in some foreign units, taking majority control of Iraq's Asiacell TASC.ISX, while it now owns 90 percent or more of Kuwait's Wataniya, through which it holds controlling stakes in operators in Tunisia and Algeria.
Asiacell's full-year revenue rose 15.9 percent to 6.9 billion riyals from a year earlier.
Wataniya, Kuwait's No.2 operator, reported a 26.5 percent drop in fourth-quarter profit last month that it blamed on tougher competition at home and foreign exchange losses in Tunisia and Algeria.
In January, Omani subsidiary Nawras posted a fourth straight decline in quarterly profit as falling revenue from texts and on-network calls weighed on its bottom line.
Last week, Qatar Telecom rebranded itself as ooredoo, which means "I want" in Arabic, saying all its majority-owned units would come under the new name within two years.
It is also jostling with Etisalat ETEL.AD of the United Arab Emirates and KT Corp, Korea's second-biggest telco, to buy Vivendi's 53 percent stake in Maroc Telecom (IAM.CS).
Ooredoo made an annual net profit of 2.94 billion riyals in 2012, up from 2.61 billion in 2011.
Fourth-quarter revenue was 8.71 billion riyals. This compares with 8.19 billion a year ago. ($1 = 3.6409 Qatar riyals)
(Editing by David Holmes)
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