Qtel Q1 Profit More Than Doubles

Qatar Telecommunications Co QTEL.QA (Qtel) announced on Wednesday that it more than doubled its first-quarter net profit, beating analysts’ expectations.

They posted a first quarter net profit of 1.2 billion riyals ($329.8 million), compared with 593.7 million riyals a year-ago.

Analysts polled by Reuters expected a first quarter net profit of 644.7 million riyals.[nLDE63A03Y]

Expected competitive pressure in Qatar was offset by growth in other markets, particularly Tunisia, Iraq, Algeria and Oman, a Qtel spokesman said in an interview with Reuters.

“The growth that we saw came from markets outside Qatar. That is consistent with our strategy, as we’ve been prepared for competition (at home) for some time now,” he said.

The company, which operates in 17 countries, has expanded rapidly to mitigate the loss of its monopoly after Britain’s Vodafone (VOD.L) VFQS.QA entered the Qatari market.

Its focus has been on acquisitions in the Middle East and North African region, the Indian subcontinent as well as south east Asia.

“Qtel will be looking for acquisitions and organically growing their core operations this year,” said NematAllah Choucri, analyst at HC Brokerage in Cairo.

“We expect healthy growth in the top line in 2010, but lower margins because of increased competition in three markets: Qatar, Tunisia and Kuwait,” she said.

Vodafone Qatar VFQS.QA, the Qatari unit of British mobile operator Vodafone (VOD.L), broke Qtel’s monopoly with its bid for Qatar’s second mobile telephone license for $2.12 billion in 2007. In March, Vodafone was awarded the country’s second fixed-line phone licence.

( Reuters )

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