Russia's MTS posts profit vs year-ago loss, beats forecast

MOSCOW Tue Aug 20, 2013 7:24am EDT

A man walks past a MTS shop in St.Petersburg March 18, 2013. REUTERS/Alexander Demianchuk

A man walks past a MTS shop in St.Petersburg March 18, 2013.

Credit: Reuters/Alexander Demianchuk

MOSCOW (Reuters) - Top Russian mobile phone operator MTS (MBT.N) posted on Tuesday a second quarter profit which beat analysts expectations and reversed a loss a year ago, after being boosted by the settlement of a Kyrgyz lawsuit.

New York-listed MTS, part of oil-to-telecoms conglomerate Sistema (SSAq.L), said in June it would book a $320 million gain this quarter from the settlement of a dispute over the 51-percent stake it bought in Kyrgyz operator Bitel in 2005.

The company wrote off that amount in 2006 after it failed to gain operational control of what was then Kyrgyzstan's biggest mobile operator because its ownership was in dispute.

Second quarter net income was 29 billion roubles ($881 million) versus a 23 billion rouble loss a year ago when its earnings were hurt by the suspension of its licence in another central Asian state, Uzbekistan.

Analysts polled by Reuters had forecast net profit of 23.7 billion roubles including the Bitel gain, and about 14.8 billion after stripping it out.

Excluding the Bitel gain, net profit was 13 billion roubles, MTS said, which was slightly lower than analysts' forecast. Revenues added 5 percent to 97.5 billion roubles year-on-year.

Operating income before depreciation and amortization (OIBDA) was up almost 10 percent to 44.4 billion roubles.

The OIBDA margin stood at 45.5 percent and the company raised its full-year forecast to 43 percent from a previous 41-42 percent, it said.

(Reporting by Anastasia Teterevleva; Writing by Katya Golubkova and Megan Davies; Editing by Elizabeth Piper)