Etihad Etisalat Fourth-Quarter Profit Rises More Than Estimates

Etihad Etisalat Co., the Saudi telecommunications operator known as Mobily, reported an 11 percent increase in fourth-quarter profit because of more revenue from subscriber roaming charges and data services.

Net income rose to 1.9 billion riyals ($507 million) from 1.7 billion riyals in the same period a year earlier, the company said in a statement on the Saudi stock exchange’s website today. That was more than the 1.75 billion-riyal average estimate from 13 analysts compiled by Bloomberg News.

Mobily and other Saudi telecommunications companies benefitted from economic growth of 6.8 percent last year in the Gulf Cooperation Council’s most-populous country. They also gained from religious pilgrims heading to the country and using their mobile phones from outside Saudi Arabia.

The fourth-quarter gain is “attributable to the rise in data revenues,” the company said in the statement. “The number of visitors roaming on the company’s network increased by 24 percent during the Hajj season.”

Mobily shares gained 1.4 percent to 72 riyals at 1:14 p.m. in Riyadh. The shares have advanced 4.2 percent this year.

Saudi Arabia, with a population of 28 million people, had 53.1 million mobile-phone subscriptions and 4.74 million for fixed lines at the end of the third quarter this year, according to the Communications and Information Technology Commission.

Revenue increased 17 percent to 6.8 billion riyals from 5.8 billion riyals in the fourth quarter a year before, Mobily said. That growth is due to a 41 percent rise in data revenue, while sales from the fiber optic and 4G networks advanced more than 70 percent on the previous year, it said.

Mobily plans to spend more than 22 billion riyals during the next five years on its mobile broadband sector and to expand its fiber optic network to 500,000 residential units by the end of 2013, Chairman Abdulaziz Al Sagheer said in the statement.

Fourth-quarter operating profit increased 8 percent to 1.9 billion riyals, the company said. It recommended a dividend of 1.15 riyals per share.

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