British mobile phone giant Vodafone Group beat market forecasts for quarterly customer additions on Wednesday, and reiterated its annual forecasts for revenue growth and profit margins.
The acquisitive firm, which is now eyeing a controlling stake in India's fourth-biggest mobile operator Hutchison Essar, said it added a net 8.7 million new customers in its fiscal third quarter to December 31, taking its total to 198.6 million.
"I am also pleased to announce today that we now have 200 million proportionate customers globally ... This is ... an important milestone for Vodafone," Chief Executive Arun Sarin said in a statement.
Europe's biggest mobile phone group said its mobile revenue rose 6.1% during the key Christmas quarter, with growth in emerging markets such as eastern Europe, the Middle East and Africa far outpacing core Western Europe markets.
Vodafone was expected to add a net 7.5 million customers in the quarter, according to the average forecast of 12 analysts polled by Reuters. The average forecast for revenue growth was 6.2%.
Vodafone, the world's biggest mobile operator outside China, said it expected mobile revenue growth for the year to be within its previously indicated range of 5 to 6.5% and mobile EBITDA margin one percentage point lower.
Earlier this week, rival Deutsche Telekom sent shivers through the European telecoms sector with a profit warning -- its second in six months -- blaming fierce competition in the German market.