HONG KONG (Dow Jones) -- China Mobile's first-half net profit rose 26%, the world's largest cellular-service provider by customers served reported Thursday, as the company solidified its dominance in the mainland wireless market.
Net profit was 30.2 billion yuan ($3.8 billion), compared to 24 billion yuan earned in the first half last year.
The results were roughly in line with market expectations for China Mobile.
Revenue rose 20% to 137.0 billion yuan, from 114.6 billion yuan.
China Mobile also announced an ordinary interim dividend of HK$0.62 (8 cents) per share and a special interim dividend of HK$0.09 per share.
Basic earnings per share came to 1.52 yuan, up 25% from a year earlier.
In the first half of 2006, China Mobile gained 25.8 million new subscribers, pushing its total base to 274 million.
"Business in the eastern regions continued to grow, and the momentum of growth in the central and western regions and in the rural market remained robust," the company said in a statement.
As the more developed market near China's east coast becomes increasingly saturated, China Mobile's been competing with rivals to sign up new users in smaller cities and rural areas farther inland. China's total mobile market stands at about 426 million subscribers, out of a population of 1.4 billion.
China Mobile didn't provide a timetable for the rollout of third-generation wireless, the long-anticipated data-oriented services that have been held up by delays in government approval, but said it "will actively carry out preparatory work in the planning and construction of and market operations for 3G, in order to prepare for the launch of commercial application of 3G."
China Mobile, the largest listed mainland firm by market value, has a capitalization of $134 billion -- about 10% of the Hong Kong Stock Exchange's overall market capitalization.
China Mobile hold about two-thirds of the Chinese market in terms of subscriber numbers, and its dominance in increasing as it captures more new users than its rivals. Indeed, during the first half of 2006, the carrier accounted for almost 80% of total new subscribers in China.
Before reporting earnings, China Mobile's shares fell 1.24% on the Hong Kong Stock Exchange. Its shares have gained 29% since the beginning of the year.
China Unicom, the country's second-largest mobile provider, reports earnings Aug. 24.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires "
Tags: [china unicom]
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