UPDATE 1-Saudi Arabia's Mobily Q1 net profit rises 4.5 pct, misses estimates

Mon Apr 21, 2014 11:37am EDT

* Q1 net 1.4 bln riyals vs 1.34 bln yr earlier

* Analysts had on average forecast 1.52 billion

* Co says higher depreciation expenses weigh on results

* Revenue 6.24 bln riyals vs 5.63 bln (Adds details)

By Matt Smith

DUBAI, April 21 (Reuters) - Etihad Etisalat (Mobily), Saudi Arabia's No.2 telecom operator, missed forecasts with a 4.5 percent increase in first-quarter net profit on Monday, as depreciation expenses rose.

Mobily, an affiliate of United Arab Emirates-based Etisalat , made a first-quarter net profit of 1.4 billion riyals ($373.3 million), up from 1.34 billion in the prior-year period, it said in a bourse filing.

Analysts polled by Reuters had on average forecast Mobily, which competes with the Gulf's No.1 operator Saudi Telecom Co (STC) and Zain Saudi, would make a quarterly profit of 1.52 billion riyals.

Mobily said higher depreciation expenses - a result of increased capital expenditure - weighed on its results, but gave no further details.

The firm's revenue for the three months to March 31 reached 6.24 billion riyals, up from 5.59 billion a year before.

Mobily said the increase was due to higher income from business customers, increased data earnings and greater equipment revenue.

The company is in talks to buy a stake in fixed-line operator Etihad Atheeb, a move seen as helping it offer service bundles that include voice, data and television.

Saudi operators have focused on data and combined services to offset slumping conventional call margins, which are under pressure due to the surging popularity of services such as internet-based phone calls and instant messaging.

($1 = 3.7503 Saudi Riyals) (Reporting by Matt Smith; Editing by David French and David Holmes)

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