Bahrain Telecommunications (Batelco) on Monday reported a 13 percent rise in quarterly profits, beating estimates as its subscriber base expanded and a loss-making foreign affiliate was dropped from its earnings.
The former monopoly made a net profit of BD23.5m ($62.3m) in the fourth quarter ended December 31, according to Reuters calculations, compared with a profit of BD20.8m in the prior-year period.
Two analysts polled by Reuters forecast the firm would post a quarterly profit of between BD17.6-20.4m
Batelco's fourth-quarter revenue was 81.5 million dinars, down from 84 million dinars a year earlier.
As of September 30, loss-making Indian affiliate S Tel, in which Batelco owns a 43 percent stake, is no longer recognised as a loss on the Bahraini firm's earnings statement because the unit is now classified as an asset for sale.
Batelco's subscriber base was 11 million in the fourth quarter, up 20 percent from a year earlier. It operates in seven countries, including Yemen, Egypt and Jordan.
Batelco proposed a dividend of 40 fils per share for 2011, down from 45 fils per share for 2010, while the firm's cash balance is now BD107.9m, up 24 percent from a year ago.
The firm's shares ended flat on Bahrain's bourse before the results were announced. The stock has fallen by a third in the past two years.
Batelco is eyeing a sale and lease back deal for its tower assets in Bahrain and Jordan, a banking source familiar with the matter said in December, in a move that would raise funds for potential acquisitions.