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Mon 21 Apr 2014 05:23 PM

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Kuwait's Zain posts 8% rise in Q1 net profit

Earnings from Iraq and domestic market boosts quarterly performance of Kuwaiti telco

Kuwait's Zain posts 8% rise in Q1 net profit
GCC telecoms

Zain, Kuwait's top telecoms operator by subscribers, reported an 8 percent rise in first-quarter profit on Monday, beating analysts' estimates as earnings from Iraq and its domestic business rose and Sudan's currency stabilised.

The former monopoly, which operates in eight countries in the Middle East and Africa, posted a net profit of KD55.9 million ($198.5 million) in the three months to March 31.

It did not provide a year-earlier figure in dinars, but its previous financial statements show it made a profit of KD52 million in the first three months of 2013.

Two analysts polled by Reuters had forecast profit figures of KD50 million and KD53.3 million.

The firm had posted falling profits in five of the preceding six quarters as tougher competition at home and the plunging value of Sudan's pound weighed on the bottom line.

The currency has been steady this year after Sudan devalued it against the dollar by nearly a quarter last November. It has had less of an impact on Zain's earnings this year, the company said.

First-quarter revenue was KD311 million, up 4 percent from the year-earlier period.

Data revenue rose 27 percent to reach 15 percent of the total.

Chief Executive Scott Gegenheimer said in a company statement that the rise vindicated Zain's "huge investment" in upgrading its networks.

Zain's Iraqi operation is its most important, accounting for 35 percent of customers and 40 percent of revenue. The unit's net profit rose by almost a quarter to $78.3 million.

In Kuwait, quarterly profit rose 8 percent to $98 million. Data accounted for 31 percent of domestic revenue, which grew 9 percent to $313.2 million.

At home, Zain competes with Wataniya, a unit of Qatar's Ooredoo, and Viva, an affiliate of Saudi Telecom Co.

Zain's total subscriber base increased 5 percent from a year ago to reach 46.2 million as of March 31.

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