India mobile phone giant Bharti Q1 profit up 34 percent

MUMBAI, July 24, 2008 (AFP) – India’s top mobile phone company, Bharti Airtel, said its first-quarter net profit increased by a better-than-expected 34 percent, as subscriptions rose in the world’s fastest-growing wireless market. Net profit for the three months to June was 20.25 billion rupees (470 million dollars) from 15.12 billion rupees for the same period a year ago.

Revenues climbed 44 percent to 84.83 billion rupees.

“On the mobile side, monthly customer adds crossed the 2.5 million mark in the quarter,” Bharti chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal said in a statement.

“This demonstrates the Indian telecom growth story is intact, with the rural markets witnessing strong uptake,” he said.

The company added a record 7.5 million customers during the quarter, the most ever in a single three-month period.

The customer base jumped 61 percent to 70 million — most of them in the mobile sector — during the quarter from the same period a year earlier.

In early trade, Bharti shares fell 6.1 rupees or 0.75 percent to 809.9 while the benchmark Mumbai stock exchange Sensex index was down 100.72 points or 0.67 percent to 14,841.56.

The Indian telecommunications sector has been witnessing unprecedented growth,