Etisalat net profit jumps 26 per cent, but falls short of estimates

Etisalat today reported a 26 per cent increase in annual net profit across its international footprint, bolstered by its acquisition of Moroccan operator Maroc Telecom in May.

The Abu Dhabi-listed telecom operator’s revenues rose 26.5 per cent year on year to Dh48.8 billion, with the addition of Maroc Telecom accounting for more than 50 per cent of the increase. UAE revenues meanwhile increased 8.9 per cent year on year to Dh27.8bn.

Etisalat added 21 million subscribers during the year, most of which also came from Maroc Telecom, taking its aggregate subscriber base to 169 million at the end of December.

The operator, active in 19 markets across the Middle East, Africa and Asia, has proposed a final dividend payout of 70 fils per share for 2014, representing a dividend payout ratio of 62 per cent and a dividend yield of 6 per cent.

The company’s board has also proposed the issuance of 10 per cent bonus shares.

The results largely came in ahead of analyst predictions, with only revenues for the fourth quarter falling short of an average of analyst predictions compiled by Bloomberg.

The operator announced in November that it would reduce its annual profits by Dh162 million, following a restatement of earnings by its Saudi subsidiary Etihad Etisalat, in which the UAE company owns a 27.46 per cent stake.

The Saudi operator, also known as Mobily, said on Wednesday that its chief executive Khalid Al Kaf had been discharged from his duties, following a series of accounting errors that have wiped around $9bn off its market value in the past four months.

Shares in Etisalat rose by more than 3 per cent in the first hour of trading, reaching their highest level since April 2014.

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