* Mobile revenue in first half up 3 pct versus flat forecast
* Shares rise to two-year high
By Paul Sandle
LONDON, Nov 7 Britain's Cable & Wireless
Communications said its mobile services returned to
growth in the first half, driven by the popularity of mobile
data in its biggest markets of Panama and the Caribbean.
In his last set of results before he hands over to Phil
Bentley, formerly of British Gas, chief executive Tony Rice said
the bounce back in mobile put the group on track for the year.
"We have mobile growth across all regions, and we've made a
good start in getting $100 million of costs out of the company,"
he said in an interview on Thursday. "Mobile revenue is up 3
percent, but mobile data was up 29 percent."
Mobile revenue was flat in its last financial year to the
end of March, as declining voice calls offset growth in data
used by smartphones.
Rice said the penetration of smartphones was now about 27
percent of customers, compared with 70-75 percent in Western
markets, so there was plenty of room to grow.
Shares in the group rose 3 percent to a more-than-two year
high of 47.9 pence as first-half core earnings of $298 million,
up 3 percent, beat average forecasts of a flat result.
Deutsche Bank analyst David Wright, who sees a 1 percent
rise in core earnings this financial year, said he was
encouraged by further evidence of stabilisation in Panama, wider
regional mobile data growth and increasing traction in cost
Rice said the disposal of the company's Monaco business had
stalled - an outcome flagged earlier in the year - but the
business was growing and the group would look at other options
for the unit.