MTS Earnings Beat Estimates on Rising Russia Mobile Data Demand

OAO Mobile TeleSystems, Russia’s largest wireless carrier, reported fourth-quarter earnings that beat analysts’ estimates on new users and rising data usage.

Operating income before depreciation and amortization rose 11 percent to 45 billion rubles ($1.2 billion), the Moscow-based company known as MTS said today in a statement. Analysts projected 43.3 billion rubles, the average of five estimates compiled by Bloomberg. Sales climbed 6.4 percent to 104.8 billion rubles.

MTS, controlled by tycoon Vladimir Evtushenkov, competes with fellow billionaire Alisher Usmanov’s OAO MegaFon for leadership in Russia’s fast-growing mobile-data market. Mikhail Fridman’s VimpelCom Ltd. and Yury Kovalchuk’s Tele2 Russia are adding new devices and improving their networks to catch up.

MTS’s revenue from mobile data increased 49 percent to 13.8 billion rubles last quarter, exceeding the 40 percent growth at MegaFon. Subscriptions rose 2.4 percent from the third quarter to almost 108 million, including 75.3 million in Russia.

Shares of MTS rose 3.1 percent to 252.94 rubles at 2:55 p.m. in Moscow. They had lost 25 percent this year through yesterday amid a slowing Russian economy and the military standoff in Ukraine.