Japan's DoCoMo posts 28.4% drop in profit

Profits at NTT DoCoMo, Japan's biggest mobile phone carrier, fell 28.4% in the most recent quarter, the company said, amid intensifying competition in the cell phone market, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said DoCoMo's net income fell to 93.9 billion yen ($772.8 million) in the October-December period, the company's fiscal third quarter, compared with 131.1 billion yen ($1.08 billion) a year earlier, the company said.

The Associated Press report also quoted company spokesman Shinya Yokota as saying that the on-year profit decline was exaggerated by the company's profit from the sale of its stake in KPN Mobile last year, which was worth 40 billion yen ($331 million).

Sales rose 0.4% to 1.2136 trillion yen ($9.99 billion) from 1.2088 trillion yen ($10.1 billion), while operating profit rose 18.4% to 160 billion yen ($1.32 billion), from 135.1 billion yen ($1.1 billion), the report said.

Yokota said that overall cost-cutting efforts contributed to the improved operating profit.

The report said the Tokyo-based company faces tough competition from rivals such as KDDI and Softbank, especially after Japan introduced number portability on October 24, allowing users to switch carriers without changing phone numbers.

KDDI, the operator of Japan's No.2 cell phone service brand 'au,' won the largest net gain in subscribers among Japanese mobile phone operators in 2006, according to Kyodo News agency.