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Vodafone Posts Solid First-Quarter Sales as India, Turkey Shine

Mobile phone giant Vodafone Group posted robust first-quarter revenue and customer growth on Thursday as booming business in India and Turkey helped offset tough German and Italian markets.

Vodafone, the world's second-largest mobile phone company by customers behind China Mobile, said it added 9.1 million subscribers in the three months to the end of June, topping most expectations.

Including its acquisition of India's third-ranked mobile phone group Hutchison Essar, which Vodafone secured for around $11 billion in May, the company's customer base is around 232 million.

Vodafone said group revenues climbed 7.5% to 8.3 billion pounds ($17.03 billion). Excluding acquisitions, organic revenue growth was 4 percent as fierce competition in markets such as Germany and Italy cast a pall over a stronger performance in Spain and Britain.

Analysts had expected continued weakness in parts of Europe and some argue this is already reflected in Vodafone's share price, which some say continues to trade at a discount to the sector despite a sharp recent rally.

"We have made a good start to the financial year, with a strong performance in the EMAPA (eastern Europe, the Middle East, Africa, Asia and the Pacific) region offsetting continued challenging markets in Europe," Chief Executive Arun Sarin said in a statement.

The company said its new businesses in India and Turkey had delivered strong year-on-year revenue growth which, in local currency, surged by 50% and 32% respectively.

Sarin has helped swing market attention away from stalling European markets and re-focus it on booming emerging market assets.

Vodafone's holdings in markets such as India and Turkey -- at purchase prices that sometimes raised eyebrows -- now account for roughly 30% of the company's value.

Vodafone repeated full-year revenue forecasts of 33.3 billion pounds to 34.1 billion and adjusted operating profit of between 9.3 billion pounds and 9.8 billion.

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