UPDATE 1-Kuwait Wataniya first-quarter profit rises 1.5 pct despite domestic slump

Tue Apr 22, 2014 10:51am EDT

* Q1 profit 19.8 mln dinars vs 19.5 mln dinars a yr ago

* Q1 revenue 182.7 mln dinars vs 181.3 mln dinars a yr ago

* Overseas operations outperform domestic business

* Net income from Kuwait operations down by two thirds (Adds details)

By Matt Smith

DUBAI, April 22 (Reuters) - Kuwaiti telecom operator Wataniya reported a 1.5 percent rise in first-quarter profit on Tuesday as improved earnings from its foreign units helped offset a domestic slump.

Wataniya, a unit of Qatar's Ooredoo, made a net attributable profit of 19.8 million dinars ($70.3 million) in the three months to March 31, up from 19.5 million dinars in the year-earlier period, it said in a statement.

EFG Hermes forecast Wataniya would post a quarterly profit of 19.9 million dinars.

The company had reported declining profits in seven of the nine preceding quarters. Its slight rise in first-quarter profit comes despite a fall in net income from its domestic operations - where it competes with Zain and Viva, an affiliate of Saudi Telecom Co. - by more than two-thirds to 2.9 million dinars.

Wataniya also has operations in Algeria, Tunisia, the Maldives and the Palestinian Territories and these partially offset its domestic weaknesses.

The Tunisian unit's quarterly net profit attributable to Wataniya was 5.8 million dinars, up from 3.8 million dinars a year ago, while Algeria's jumped 16 percent to 8.6 million dinars.

Wataniya Palestine also trimmed its net loss slightly to 0.6 million dinars while the Maldives' operations swung to a profit of 0.2 million dinars.

Total profits from these five divisions add up to 16.9 million dinars, according to Reuters calculations, some way short of the 19.8 million dinars quarterly profit announced in Wataniya's statement.

The company did not explain this discrepancy when asked by Reuters for clarification.

First-quarter revenue was 182.7 million dinars, up 0.8 percent on the same period of 2013. ($1 = 0.2816 Kuwaiti dinars) (Reporting by Matt Smith; Editing by David French and Susan Fenton)