November 21, 2018 / 8:51 AM / 19 days ago

UPDATE 1-Israel's Partner Communications quarterly profit down 52 pct

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TEL AVIV, Nov 21 (Reuters) - Partner Communications , Israel’s second-largest mobile phone operator, reported on Wednesday a 52 percent drop in quarterly profit as it continues to invest heavily in the deployment of a fibre optics network and its TV service.

Partner earned 26 million shekels in the third quarter, down from 54 million a year earlier. Revenue slipped to 822 million shekels from 826 million, with its cellular subscriber base falling by 1 percent to 2.65 million.

According to a Reuters poll of analysts, Partner was forecast to earn 24.7 million shekels on revenue of 821 million shekels.

Partner’s revenue and profit have plunged in the wake of a 2012 reform that opened up the mobile market to new players, sharply reducing prices. It is seeking new revenue streams and investing to become an integrated multi-service telecoms group.

The company said 118,000 households had connected to its internet-based TV service. Its fibre optics infrastructure now reaches more than 250,000 households.

Barclays analyst Tavy Rosner said that Partner does not specify how many homes out of those with access are actually connected to the network.

“In our view this number is key as we estimate that the vertical part of the deployment (connecting apartments etc) is expensive and complex,” Rosner said.

Shares in Partner were up 2.7 percent in morning trade in Tel Aviv.

“The third quarter of 2018 results reflect encouraging figures in the cellular segment as well as the momentum in the company’s new growth engines, TV and fibre optic infrastructure,” Partner Chief Executive Isaac Benbenisti said. (Reporting by Tova Cohen, Editing by Ari Rabinovitch and Louise Heavens)

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