MTN First-Half Earnings Miss Analyst Estimates on Economy

MTN Group Ltd., Africa’s largest mobile-phone operator, reported first-half earnings that missed analysts’ estimates as increasing competition and an economic slowdown weighed on results.

Adjusted earnings per share advanced to 5.37 rand from 4.70 rand a year earlier, Johannesburg-based MTN said today in a statement. That missed the 5.91-rand median of two analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Revenue rose to 66.4 billion rand ($8.18 billion) from 56.54 billion rand.

“Market conditions continued to be impacted by increasing levels of competition, regulatory requirements, political unrest in certain countries and the global economic slowdown,” MTN said.

First-half subscriber numbers gained 6.9 percent to 176 million users. MTN, which operates in 22 African and Middle Eastern markets, said revenue growth was enhanced by the rand’s and Nigerian naira’s declines versus the dollar.

The company is upgrading networks to so-called third-generation technology to handle more data traffic as consumers seek Internet connections on their mobile devices. Data services, excluding text messages, contributed 10 percent of group revenue, said the company.

Stock Falls

The stock fell 0.5 percent to 153 rand at the close in Johannesburg, bringing the company’s market value to 288.4 billion rand.

MTN’s first-half capital spending was 10.1 billion rand as the phone operator expanded 3G mobile technology. “Although capital expenditure increased when compared to the corresponding period for 2011, the rate of capex is expected to accelerate in the second half of the year,” MTN said.

The company decided to increase its dividend payout to 72 percent of earnings from 70 percent. MTN said it plans an interim dividend of 3.21 rand a share. The company spent 2.09 billion rand buying back its shares in the period.

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