India's top mobile phone company Bharti Airtel on Wednesday reported a 29 percent fall in quarterly profit year-on-year due partly to foreign exchange losses, its 15th straight drop.
A promotional billboard at the launch of Airtel's 4G services in Kolkata on April 10, 2012
The company, the fourth largest globally by customers, said net profit for the second financial quarter to September fell to 5.12 billion rupees ($83 million) as it struggles in a cut-throat market.
The profit was lower than analysts' expectations of 6.6 billion rupees.
The company reported forex losses of 3.42 billion rupees in the quarter because of a sharp fall in the value of the rupee.
But revenue climbed 9.9 percent to 213.24 billion rupees.
The Indian firm, which has operations in both Africa and Asia, said mobile internet revenues soared 100 percent year-on-year to 15.03 billion rupees.
"Mobile internet is now a major engine of growth for Airtel across all geographies," said chairman Sunil Mittal in a statement.
Mittal also said revenues grew in Africa, where it has struggled in the past to increase market share.
Bharti has 280 million clients across 20 countries, 70 percent of them in India. It is one-third held by Singapore's SingTel, Southeast Asia's leading telecom operator.
Despite weaker profit, Bharti shares jumped as much as 5.39 percent to a high of 359.6 rupees on Wednesday morning on the revenue growth and news of better than expected business in Africa.
India's telecom sector was a market star before intense tariff wars pushed call rates down to among the world's lowest.
The number of major telecoms players has tumbled from more than a dozen to around half that number, after a 2012 Supreme Court ruling that scrapped the licences of various smaller firms over a scandal-tainted spectrum sale.
But in recent months, Indian mobile firms have reduced discounts and raised some prices as smaller rivals exited. This has eased market congestion and helped reduce cut-throat tariff competition.
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