India's Idea Q1 net profit nearly doubles, beats estimates

NEW DELHI Thu Aug 1, 2013 7:25am EDT

NEW DELHI Aug 1 (Reuters) - Indian mobile phone carrier Idea Cellular Ltd's quarterly profit nearly doubled, beating estimates, riding on strong customer additions and greater pricing power after the exit of several smaller competitors from the market.

Idea, part of the financials-to-minerals Aditya Birla conglomerate, said consolidated net profit rose to 4.63 billion rupees ($76 million) for its fiscal first quarter to end-June, from 2.34 billion rupees a year earlier.

Analysts had expected the company, which is about a fifth owned by Malaysia's Axiata, to report a net profit of 4 billion rupees, according to Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S.

Bigger Indian carriers such as Bharti Airtel Ltd, Vodafone Group Plc's local unit and Idea have raised prices by cutting discounts in the highly-competitive mobile phone market after a court order invalidated the permits of several smaller rivals, forcing them to shut or scale back.

Idea, which led the market in new customer additions in the six months to June, has seen its stock rising 61 percent this year. Idea's results follow strong operating performances by Bharti and Vodafone India. ($1 = 60.8050 Indian rupees) (Reporting by Devidutta Tripathy and Aradhana Aravindan; Editing by Matt Driskill and Prateek Chatterjee)