India's Bharti Airtel doubles quarterly earnings

Bharti Airtel, India's largest mobile phone company, reported that its net profit in the most recent quarter doubled from a year ago, thanks to robust growth in new subscribers, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said profit rose to 15.1 billion rupees ($368 million) in the April-June quarter from 7.6 billion rupees ($189 million) in the same period a year ago, according to a company statement.

The earning numbers, which conform to US accounting standards, were above analysts' expectations, the report said.

Quarterly revenue rose 53% to 59.1 billion revenues ($1.4 billion), helped by addition of 5.7 million customers during the quarter.

'Bharti Airtel has maintained the growth momentum and further consolidated the market leadership in the wireless segment,' company chairman Sunil B. Mittal was quoted as saying.

Increased competition, low tariffs and rising middle class incomes have helped India's telecommunications industry post impressive growth in recent years, making it the world's third-largest mobile phone market after China and the US.

Most of the growth has been limited to urban centers, where the market is nearing saturation. Phone companies are increasingly looking to rural areas for future growth, the report said.

Bharti competes with Reliance Communications, state-run BSNL and Hutchison Essar, which is being acquired by Vodafone, the report added.

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