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Ascom Gains as Swiss Network Tester Raises Margin: Zurich Mover

Ascom Holding AG rose the most in more than two years after the Swiss provider of mobile communications said its operating margin almost tripled in the second half as it cut costs at the network-testing unit.

The stock rose as much as 9 percent, the steepest intraday gain since August 2010. The shares were 5.3 percent up at 9.95 Swiss francs as of 10:31 a.m. in Zurich, giving the company a market value of 358 million francs ($385 million). More than 200,000 shares were traded, more than triple the average daily volume over the past six months.

Ascom implemented measures to reduce costs at its network-testing unit by 20 million francs in 2013, the Dubendorf-based company said in a statement today. The unit’s second-half sales were 15 percent higher than in the first half, bringing its full-year revenue to about 130 million francs.

“The fast and successful implementation of the restructuring program already has surprised us positively,” Panagiotis Spiliopoulos, an analyst at Bank Vontobel, wrote in a note to investors. He has a hold recommendation on the stock.

Ascom’s total earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization were about 14 percent of sales in the second half, compared with 5 percent in the first six months. Full-year net income was about 20 million francs compared with 23.1 million francs in 2011.

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