* Customers up nearly 10 pct
* Revenue up 12 pct boosted by data
* Shares down 8 pct
JOHANNESBURG, March 5 MTN Group,
Africa's largest telecoms provider, posted a 27 percent jump in
full-year earnings on Wednesday, lifted by foreign exchange
gains and strong growth in data revenue.
Johannesburg-based MTN, which has operations in nearly two
dozen countries across Africa and the Middle East, said diluted
headline earnings rose to 1,378 cents per share in the year to
end-December, from 1,082 cents a year earlier.
Headline EPS, the main profit measure in South Africa,
excludes certain one-time items.
MTN said last month its earnings would rise by 25 to 30
percent, citing foreign exchange gains of 1.1 billion rand
($101.96 million). The rand currency lost around 20
percent last year, hit by a sell-off in emerging market assets,
and lifting overseas earnings for exporters and internationally
focused companies such as MTN.
Revenue rose 12 percent, underpinned by data revenue, which
climbed more than 40 percent to 20.7 billion rand. Mobile phone
operators are reinventing themselves to rely less on telephone
calls and pushing customers to use more data.
Growth in outgoing voice revenue was slower, at 12 percent.
Customers rose to 207.8 million, up nearly 10 percent.
MTN is challenging a South African regulatory decision to
reduce the rates it charges competitors to carry calls on its
network, arguing smaller operators stand to gain from the
decision despite spending much less on upgrading their own
It spent more than 30 billion rand on capital expenditure,
up nearly 5 percent.
The company's shares are down more than 8 percent so far
this year, compared with 3.8 percent rise by the Top-40 index
($1 = 10.7890 South African rand)
(Reporting by Helen Nyambura-Mwaura; editing by David Dolan)