HONG KONG, March 21 China Unicom, the country's second-largest mobile carrier, posted a net profit of 7.1 billion yuan ($1.1 billion)in 2012, up 68 percent from a year earlier and slightly beating estimates, the company said on Thursday.
The market had expected a net profit of 6.93 billion yuan for 2012, based on Thomson Reuters I/B/E/S of 28 analysts.
Net profit for the October-December period was 1.64 billion yuan, compared with a roughly flat performance in the year-ago period, according to Reuters' calculations based on previously announced company data. China Unicom does not provide quarterly figures.
China Unicom, which became the first carrier in China to offer Apple Inc's iPhones in 2009, is releasing results just days after bigger rival China Mobile posted a 2.7 percent rise in net profit of 129.3 billion yuan in 2012. ($1 = 6.2118 Chinese yuan) (Reporting by Lee Chyen Yee; Editing by Ken Wills)