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Safaricom Heads for Biggest Gain in 2 Weeks: Nairobi Mover

Nov. 7 (Bloomberg) -- Safaricom Ltd. Kenya’s largest mobile-phone company, headed for the biggest gain in almost two weeks on speculation it will announce higher first-half earnings tomorrow.

The shares gained 2.3 percent to 4.45 shillings by 1:03 p.m. in Nairobi, poised to achieve the biggest advance and highest level since Oct. 26. About 5.5 million shares, or 101 percent of the three-month moving average volume, traded.

“We expect very strong numbers; it is just that we don’t how strong they will be,” Eric Musau, a research analyst at Nairobi-based Standard Investment Bank Ltd., said in a phone interview. “I have an estimate of 120 percent year-on-year growth for net profit because the first half of 2011 was very weak.”

Safaricom, which is 40 percent owned by Vodafone Plc, the world’s biggest telecommunications company, will announce first-half earnings through September tomorrow. Net income in the six months through September 2011 fell to 4.01 billion shillings ($47 million) from 7.63 billion shillings. In May, the company reported full-year profit of 12.6 billion shillings, beating analyst estimates, and unexpectedly raised its dividend.

Safaricom increased call charges last year for the first time in 11 years amid a weakening currency and accelerating inflation in East Africa’s biggest economy. The stock of Safaricom, Kenya’s second-biggest company by market value, has rallied 51 percent this year, compared with the Nairobi Securities Exchange All-Share Index’s 34 percent gain.

To contact the reporter on this story: Eric Ombok in Nairobi at eombok@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor responsible for this story: Shaji Mathew at shajimathew@bloomberg.net

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