May 6, 2014 / 10:16 AM / 3 years ago

Thailand's AIS Q1 net profit down 4.5 pct, beats forecasts

BANGKOK, May 6 (Reuters) - Advanced Info Service Pcl (AIS), Thailand’s largest mobile phone operator, reported a 4.5 percent drop in first-quarter net profit on Tuesday, dragged down by weaker consumption and fierce competition after months of political unrest.

AIS, 21 percent-owned by Singapore Telecommunications Ltd , posted a net profit of 9.48 billion baht ($293 million) for the January-March quarter, down from 9.92 billion a year earlier. The results beat the 9.24 billion baht average forecast by 11 analysts polled by Reuters.

The Thai mobile sector, like many other consumption-related industries, has seen revenue suffer since political unrest began in November as delayed payments from a government rice-buying scheme and lower commodities prices have brought down consumer purchasing power.

AIS has been aggressively expanding its network, while marketing costs remain high as the market leader wants to migrate subscribers to a new 3G network.

Migrating customers would help boost revenue from data services, its key growth driver, and help offset drop in voice revenue.

Last week second-ranked Total Access Communication Pcl cut its revenue growth guidance to “a low single digit” from 3-5 percent due to the impact of political unrest, a weakened economy and competition.

$1 = 32.37 Thai baht Reporting by Khettiya Jittapong; Editing by Matt Driskill

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