Bharti Climbs After Profit Beats Estimates on India Data Growth

Bharti Airtel Ltd. rose the most in two weeks in Mumbai trading after profit at India’s largest mobile-phone carrier beat analyst estimates helped by increased data usage at home and the sale of wireless towers in Africa.

Shares climbed as much as 3.5 percent, the biggest intraday jump since July 21, and traded 2.3 percent up at 422.55 rupees as of 9:19 a.m. in Mumbai. The stock was the second-best performer on the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex index, which rose 0.7 percent.

The world’s third-largest wireless carrier by subscribers on Tuesday reported first-quarter profit jumped 40 percent after the sale of phone towers in Africa for $1.3 billion contributed a one-time gain. In India, its largest market, Bharti is racing to roll out high-speed mobile Internet services to tap booming data use before billionaire Mukesh Ambani starts a competing network by the year end.

“We expect India wireless business to perform better going forward on account of steady minutes growth, improving traction in data business,” Sushil Sharma, Ankita Somani and Manav Patel at Batlivala & Karani Securities in Mumbai wrote in a note to clients. “Africa revenues seem to have stabilized after volatility witnessed in the past because of currency.”

Net income rose to 15.5 billion rupees ($242 million) in the three months through June. That compares with the 13.6 billion-rupee median of 23 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Group sales increased 3 percent to 236.7 billion rupees, beating the 233 billion-rupee median of 25 analysts’ estimates.

India Surge

Bharti’s revenue in India and South Asia rose 9.4 percent to 177.3 billion rupees in the quarter from a year earlier. Time spent by customers on the company’s network in the region climbed 7.4 percent, while data average revenue per user jumped 30 percent to 181 rupees.

Idea Cellular Ltd., India’s second-largest publicly traded wireless operator, last month posted earnings that beat analysts’ estimates.

Bharti last month said it was in exclusive talks to sell its units in Burkina Faso, Chad, Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone to Orange SA while its Indian operations are investing in third- and fourth-generation networks.

“The year has begun on a healthy note, with underlying revenue growth accelerating” in India, Gopal Vittal, chief executive officer at Bharti’s India and South Asia business, said in the earnings press release on Tuesday. “Our capex programme is mostly directed at increasing 3G/4G coverage.”

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