(Corrects day in intro to Thursday, fixes grammar in par 8 quote)
SYDNEY, Feb 13 (Reuters) - Australia’s biggest phone company Telstra Corp Ltd posted a 9.7 percent rise in the first-half net profit on Thursday, driven by its core mobile business and fast-growing network applications and services (NAS) business.
Telstra, which has announced the sale of its Hong Kong mobile phone business and also the 70 percent of its directories unit over the past two months, posted a net profit after tax of A$1.74 billion ($1.57 billion)for the six months ending December 2013, compared with A$1.59 billion a year earlier.
Net profit, excluding one-off items, rose 19.6 percent to A$1.96 billion, beating four analysts’ forecast of A$1.7 billion, according to Reuters calculation.
Total revenue rose 4.1 percent to A$A$12.8 billion, just ahead of analysts’ forecasts of A$12.7 billion.
Telstra added 739,000 new retail mobile customers in the first half and its NAS business posted record revenue growth of 29 percent, the company said.
Telstra chief financial officer Andy Penn said he was “very pleased” with the results, but declined to comment on any further job cuts in the company.
Telstra said in September it would cut 1,100 jobs by mid-2014, and local media reported on Thursday morning the company may outsource 1,000 jobs offshore.
“We continue to grow our international business ... but in other areas we make productivity improvements and simplify the business,” Penn said in a telephone interview after the results. “We will continue to reshape our work forces.”
Last month, Telstra signed a deal with Telekom Indonesia to form a joint venture in Indonesia to provide Network Applications and Services (NAS) to the biggest economy in South East Asia.
Telstra shares, which rose 10.4 percent in the past year and hit a nearly 9-year high of A$5.30 in January, closed at A$5.11 on Wednesday. ($1 = 1.1070 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Maggie Lu Yueyang)