India’s Bharti mobile Q4 net profit jumps 37 pct

NEW DELHI, April 25, 2008 (AFP) – India’s top mobile phone company Bharti Airtel on Friday reported fourth-quarter net profit leapt 37 percent on surging cellular phone use and it forecast a second growth wave from rural areas. Net profit for the three months to March 31 soared to 18.5 billion rupees (462 million dollars) from the same period a year ago, beating analyst estimates of about 18 billion rupees, the New Delhi-based company reported.

Revenues climbed 45 percent to 78.2 billion rupees in the world’s fastest-growing mobile market, where competition is intense and rates are the cheapest at as low as one cent a minute.

“The Indian telecom story is now entering the second wave of growth which will come from rural India,” said billionaire founder and chairman Sunil Bharti Mittal.

Bharti Airtel, more than 30 percent owned by Singapore’s SingTelNet, said full-year net profit jumped 57 percent to 67.01 billion rupees.

“This has been another year of record growth for the telecom industry and Bharti Airtel,” said Mittal. “Going forward we see another year of strong demand in all business segments.”

The results cheered investors, who drove up Bharti shares by 9.61 percent or 81.1 rupees to 925.3.