ECONOMY

CosmOTE outshines with results

Mobile phone operator CosmOTE yesterday beat expectations when it reported a 33 percent rise in nine-month net profits on the back of higher voice usage, increased roaming revenues and the continuing expansion of its Albanian operation. Net profits increased to 170 million euros against a 31 percent jump in turnover to 896 million euros. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) grew 31 percent to 388 million euros, while the EBITDA margin remained unchanged at 43.3 percent. Turnover was principally driven by increased voice usage and roaming services, with revenues up by 39.7 percent and 29 percent, respectively. The 16.8 percent quarter-on-quarter increase in revenues was the biggest in the last eight consecutive quarters, CosmOTE said. «The underlying operational details are strong,» said Schroder Salomon Smith Barney, citing the strong increase in CosmOTE’s AMOU (average minutes of use) and ARPU (average revenues per user). AMOU on a quarterly basis showed a 11.4 percent gain, while ARPU improved by 15 percent to 33.6 euros. The growth in ARPU helped to offset a 14 percent fall in tariffs last year and a reduction in the fixed-to-mobile interconnection charges, CosmOTE said. AMC, CosmOTE’s subsidiary in Albania, continued to surge ahead, although its results suggested that it could be feeling the heat from rival Vodafone Albania which made its debut last year. Net profits fell by 20 percent to 23 million euros, while EBITDA improved by 22.3 percent to 54 million euros. Turnover rose by 39 percent to 84 million euros as the company doubled its customer base to 422,882, the majority of which was pre-pay clients. CosmOTE last month reported a customer base of 3.37 million, giving it a market share of 38.1 percent. In the contract sector, it claimed a market share close to 50 percent. It recently signed a contract with OTE under which it will manage the parent company’s mobile phone subsidiaries in the Former Yugoslav Republic of Macedonia and Bulgaria for an annual fee of 5 percent of their revenues tied to profitability ratios. CosmOTE shares gained 1.78 percent yesterday to close at 9.16 euros, as it outperformed OTE and competitor Vodafone Panafon, both of which posted declines.