Bharti Climbs After Profit Jumps 61% on Mobile Data Usage

Bharti Airtel Ltd. climbed to a 2 1/2-year-high in Mumbai trading after increased data usage by customers helped India’s largest mobile-phone carrier post a 61 percent jump in first-quarter profit.

Shares surged 5.4 percent to close at 373.15 rupees, the highest level since Feb. 7, 2012. The stock was the biggest gainer on the benchmark S&P BSE Sensex, which rose 0.4 percent.

Net income was 11.1 billion rupees ($185 million) in the three months ended June, New Delhi-based Bharti said yesterday. Sales rose 13 percent to 229.6 billion rupees in the period, surpassing the 226.3 billion-rupee median of 24 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

Billionaire Chairman Sunil Mittal’s company is benefiting from increased availability of low-cost smartphones. Shipments of smartphones in India in the three months ended March almost tripled from a year earlier, according to researcher IDC, suggesting more people will use wireless data service to access the Internet on faster third- and fourth-generation networks.

“Bharti’s initiatives to expand third-generation cell sites resulted in constant increase in data business,” Daljeet Singh Kohli and Amar Mourya, analysts at IndiaNivesh Securities Pvt. in Mumbai, wrote in a note to clients today. “The rollout of 3G/4G and 2G data services all across India should boost the data business further.”

Data average revenue per user increased 22 percent from a year earlier in India and South Asia and rose 17 percent in Africa last quarter, Bharti said. Total data usage doubled in both the markets.

Africa Growth

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization at Bharti’s India and South Asia business increased 22 percent from a year earlier, outpacing the 7 percent Ebitda growth at the Africa operations in the period.

“Telecoms are back to growth in Africa, this time spearheaded by Internet and mobile money,” Bharti’s Africa Chief Executive Officer Christian de Faria said in a statement. “Our investments in licences, networks and marketing are directed towards sustaining double-digit revenue growth.”

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