By Souhail Karam and Asma Alsharif
UPDATE 1: Kingdom's second largest operator beats forecasts with $280.5m Q4 profit.
Etihad Etisalat (Mobily), Saudi Arabia's second-largest telecom operator posted a better-than-expected 35 percent rise in the fourth quarter to a record SR1.05 billion ($280.5 million) on more subscriptions.
Mobily made SR1.05 billion in the three months to December 31 compared to SR778 million it made a year-earlier, the firm said in a statement posted on the bourse's website
Mobily closed 2009 with 18.2 million subscribers compared to 14.7 at the end of 2009, Khaled al-Kaf, the firm's chief executive told Reuters.
"Mobily will continue the growth strategy and there is a high potential growth in the mobile broadband services and the broadband services to the offices," he said.
Analysts' forecast of Mobily's fourth quarter earnings ranged from SR884 million to SR967 million, according to a Reuters survey.
Mobily will issue dividends to its shareholders of SR1.25 per share for profits reached in 2009.
The firm's shares stood at SR48 before the market opened on Monday while the all share index stood at 6393.65.
Mobily's competitors, Saudi Telecom Co (STC), the Arab world's biggest mobile firm by market value, and Zain Saudi Arabia are expected to post results later this week. Emirates Telecommunications holds a 27.4-percent stake in Mobily. (Reuters)