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Tue 23 Oct 2007 12:25 PM

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Saudi Telecom profit continues to drop

Largest Arab telecom operator posts fifth consecutive fall in net income in Q3, down 2% to $837.3mn.

Saudi Telecom, the largest Arab telecom firm by market value, posted its fifth consecutive fall in profit in the third quarter, missing most analysts' forecasts.

Net income in the three months to September 30 fell 2% to 3.14 billion riyals ($837.3 million), compared with 3.21 billion riyals in the year-earlier period, the company said in a statement on the Saudi bourse website. It will pay shareholders a third-quarter dividend of 1.25 riyals per share, it said.

Operating income rose 7% to 8.58 billion riyals, the company said, without giving more third-quarter details.

Earnings per share for the first nine months of the year fell to 4.48 riyals, compared with 5.01 riyals in the year-earlier period, it said.

Forecasts from six brokerage and research firms ranged from 2.92 billion riyals to 3.6 billion riyals, or an average 3.21 billion riyals, according to a Reuters survey last month.

HSBC, which forecast profit at 3.22 billion riyals, recommended in May investors buy Saudi Telecom stock, giving it a target share price of 80 riyals. The stock last traded at 67.25 riyals.

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