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Reliance Communications Net Misses Estimates as Costs Climb

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Aug. 1 (Bloomberg) -- Reliance Communications Ltd., India’s third-largest mobile-phone company by market value, reported first-quarter profit that missed analysts’ estimates after finance costs increased.

Net income fell 33 percent to 1.08 billion rupees ($17.9 million) in the three months ended June, from 1.62 billion rupees a year earlier, the Mumbai-based company said in a statement today. That lagged behind the 1.49 billion-rupee median of 18 analysts’ estimates complied by Bloomberg.

The carrier posted its 15th drop in profit in 16 quarters after finance costs increased as the rupee weakened 8.6 percent against the dollar last quarter. Billionaire Anil Ambani’s company remains mired in debt as mobile income slumps and operating costs surge, according to Harit Shah, a Mumbai-based analyst with Nirmal Bang Equities Ltd.

“They’re still stumbling along and the debt is what’s dragging them down,” Shah said before Reliance reported the earnings. “They’d do better if they could sell some stake and relieve themselves of some of the burden.”

Shares of Reliance fell 6 percent to 131.30 rupees at the close in Mumbai trading, before the earnings were announced. They have gained 78 percent this year, compared with the 0.6 percent drop in the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex.

Reliance Communications’ revenue per minute increased 4 percent from the quarter ended in March to 45.7 paise per minute after the company increased call rates by 20 percent in May. Average revenue per user increased to 129 rupees from 128 rupees, Gurdeep Singh, Chief Executive Officer of Reliance Communications’ Wireless Business, said.

“Operationally, we’re getting onto a very robust trajectory,” Singh said in an interview from Mumbai.

Total revenue reached 53.2 billion rupees in the quarter from 52.6 billion rupees a year earlier, according to the statement. The company’s wireless revenue increased 4.1 percent from the quarter ended in March to 48.2 billion rupees.

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