Etihad Etisalat (Mobily), Saudi Arabia’s second-biggest telecom operator, missed analysts’ forecasts with an 11 per cent rise in first-quarter net profit on Saturday.
Mobily, an affiliate of the United Arab Emirates’ Etisalat, made a first-quarter net profit of 1.340 billion riyals, up from 1.207 billion riyals in the prior-year period, with the company citing higher data revenues in a bourse statement.
Analysts polled by Reuters on average forecast Mobily, which competes with the Gulf’s number two operator Saudi Telecom Co and Zain Saudi, would make a quarterly profit of 1.37 billion riyals.
Mobily’s revenue for the three months to March 31 was 5.63 billion riyals, up from 5.01 billion riyals from the prior-year period.
“This stems from the growth in sales of smart phones and the increase in data revenues, which accounted for 30 per cent of turnover for the period,” the company said in its statement.
Revenue from data and corporate customers will drive Mobily earnings growth, the company’s chief executive told Reuters in January.
The focus on these two segments reflects market dynamics in the kingdom, where conventional call margins have slumped due to increased competition between operators and the rising use substitute services such as Internet-based phone calls and instant messaging.