Israel's Partner Comms profit drops more than expected

TEL AVIV Wed Aug 28, 2013 2:21am EDT

TEL AVIV Aug 28 (Reuters) - Partner Communications , Israel's second-largest mobile phone operator, posted an 83 percent drop in second-quarter net profit as the company faces increased competition and an erosion in prices.

Net profit fell to 20 million shekels ($5.4 million) from 120 million a year earlier as revenue dropped 21 percent to 1.13 billion shekels, Partner said on Wednesday.

The company was forecast in a Reuters poll of analysts to earn 42.6 million shekels on revenue of 1.14 billion.

Israel's mobile phone industry was shaken up last year with the entry of six new operators, sparking a price war - with unlimited calling plans for $25 a month or lower.

"The results of the second quarter of 2013 continue to reflect, on the one hand, the ongoing impact of the competition in the market and, on the other hand, our investment in the company's key assets," Partner Chief Executive Haim Romano said in a statement.

The company reduced operating expenses by 153 million shekels in the quarter and said it plans to implement additional efficiency measures in the coming quarters to further reduce operating expenses.

Partner invested 122 million shekels in the quarter in enhancing the quality of the cellular network including high definition voice technology, and enabling extended battery life by up to 40 percent.

Its subscriber base fell 6 percent from a year earlier to 2.92 million due to a decrease in the pre-paid subscriber base.

Cellcom, Israel's biggest mobile phone operator, had previously reported a 45 percent drop in second quarter net profit to 67 million shekels and a 17.5 percent decline in revenue.

Pelephone, a unit of Bezeq Israel Telecom, reported a 17 percent drop in quarterly profit and 20.3 percent fall in revenue.

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