Talking Up

MUMBAI, Jan 23, 2007 (AFP) – India’s largest private phone company, Bharti Airtel, posted Tuesday a third quarter net profit surge, which more than doubled and was above analyst forecasts as demand for telecom services rose. The company said net profit was up to 12.15 billion rupees (274 million dollars) in the quarter ended December 31, from 5.44 billion rupees in the same period a year ago.

Revenues rose 62 percent in the third quarter to 49.13 billion rupees from 30.2 billion rupees in the same period a year ago, according to US accounting norms.

Bharti Airtel shares rose 12..80 rupees or 1.89 percent to 689.15 Tuesday while the Bombay Stock Exchange’s benchmark 30-share Sensex ended down 168 points or 1.18 percent to 14,041.24.

Analysts had forecast third quarter profit at 10.5 billion rupees for the company, which offers cellphone, Internet and other telecom services.

Bharti Airtel, which is 30.8 percent owned by Singapore Telecommunications Ltd., saw its total subscriber base grow 92 percent to 33.7 million people by December end last year, a company statement said. “Demand for telecom services continues to be robust across all segments. The wireless sector should continue to see record growth,” said