Oman's Nawras posts 21% slump in Q1 net profit

Oman's No.2 telecom operator Nawras has reported a 21 percent drop in first-quarter profit, missing analysts' estimates as text and domestic call income fell.

The firm posted a fifth straight quarterly profit decline as margins shrunk and depreciation rose while overall revenue increased 3 percent.

Nawras, majority-owned by Ooredoo (Qatar Telecom), made a net profit of OR7.7m ($20m) in the three months to March 31, down from OR9.8m in the year-earlier period.

Two analysts polled by Reuters forecast Nawras, which ended Oman Telecommunication Co's (Omantel) monopoly in 2005, would make a quarterly profit of OR10m.

Margins at Gulf telecom operators are under sustained pressure as subscribers increasingly switch to Internet-based communications such as instant messaging and Voice over IP (VoIP) services.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), a key industry metric, fell 4.1 percent to OR23.2m.

Nawras said increased depreciation arising from network modernisation had impacted its net profit.

First-quarter revenue was OR48.2m, Nawras said in a statement. This compares with OR46.8m a year ago.

Nawras attributed the revenue increase to rising income from fixed and mobile data and international calls, although income from text and domestic calls fell. The company did not provide a revenue breakdown.

The operator had 2.23 million fixed and mobile customers as of March 31, up 12.3 percent from a year earlier.

In January, Nawras said its 2012 annual profit fell 22.2 percent from a year earlier.

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