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China Telecom Posts 20% Third-Quarter Profit Gain on IPhone

China Telecom Corp., the country’s third-biggest mobile phone company by users, posted a greater-than-expected gain in quarterly profit as users of Apple Inc.’s iPhone helped boost data sales.

Net income rose 20 percent to 4.5 billion yuan ($740 million) in the three months ended Sept. 30 from 3.75 billion yuan a year earlier, the Beijing-based company said in a statement on its Website today. That beat the 4.41 billion-yuan average of three analyst estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Chairman Wang Xiaochu is seeing the benefit from being one of two carriers to offer the iPhone, along with China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd., in the world’s largest smartphone market. Both companies beat earnings estimates for the period thanks to heavy data usage, while China Mobile Ltd., which has yet to reach an agreement with Apple about offering the device, missed estimates.

Sales in the third quarter rose 12 percent to 80.7 billion yuan from 71.96 billion yuan. That compares with the average of 81 billion yuan in the Bloomberg survey.

China Telecom rose 0.3 percent to HK$4.05 at the close of trade in Hong Kong. The stock has dropped 6 percent this year, compared with a 0.7 percent gain in the city’s benchmark Hang Seng Index.

New Subscribers

In the third quarter, China Telecom’s mobile unit added 9.15 million 3G users, bringing it to 96.5 million, the company said today. Its total wireless subscriber base was 181.1 million users at the end of the third quarter.

The company ranks behind China Mobile and China Unicom in wireless users in the Asian nation. China Mobile has 755 million wireless subscribers, while China Unicom has 273 million, the carriers said this month.

China Telecom entered the wireless market in 2008 by acquiring the smaller of China Unicom’s two mobile divisions in a government-led revamp of the nation’s mobile-phone industry.

China Mobile on Oct. 21 posted an 8.8 percent drop in profit to 28.4 billion yuan in the quarter. China Unicom on Oct. 25 posted net income that gained 51 percent to 3.06 billion yuan.

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