REUTERS - Top Indian mobile carrier Bharti Airtel posted a 61 percent rise in quarterly profit on Tuesday but fell short of analyst estimates as its African business continued to weigh.
Bharti Airtel's African business has been a drag on the company, four years after it spent $9 billion to acquire money-losing mobile phone assets. It makes up about 30 percent of the telcom operator's total revenue.
Bharti made 11.08 billion rupees ($184.3 million) of profit, up from 6.89 billion last year. On average, analysts were expecting the company to earn 12.17 billion rupees.
"Their India business is firing all guns but if they keep underperforming in Africa that hurts business," said Vivekanand Subbaraman, analyst with Phillip Capital in Mumbai.
Subbaram was expecting earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization in Africa to be about $302 million, while Bharti Airtel managed $283 million.
In India, however, the company saw a healthy performance, helped by less competition.
Leading mobile carriers in India started gaining market share in 2013 and were able to raise prices of voice calls after a court order on a licensing scandal forced some smaller companies out of the market (reut.rs/1puQy2p).
For the quarter ended June, Bharti Airtel, led by billionaire Sunil Mittal, saw a 68.2 percent rise in mobile data revenue and a 20.7 percent rise in its digital TV business.
Total revenue came in at 229.6 billion rupees.
"The industry awaits more 3G spectrum being made available even as we look forward to the implementation of policies relating to spectrum sharing and trading. These have become essential to deliver sustained broadband growth and high quality service," Gopal Vittal, CEO of Bharti Airtel's India & South Asia units said in a statement.
(1 US dollar = 60.1150 Indian rupee)
(Reporting by Nivedita Bhattacharjee in Mumbai; editing by David Clarke)
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