Indonesia's Indosat Q3 Net Profit Beats Forecast

Indosat, Indonesia's second-largest mobile phone operator, made a better-than-expected 59 percent rise in third-quarter net profit, based on Reuters calculations, due to strong
subscriber growth.

Indosat, which was the subject of a controversial ruling by Indonesia's anti-monopoly agency this week, made third-quarter net profit of nearly 600 billion rupiah ($63.83 million), compared to 378.4 billion rupiah a year ago, according to Reuters calculations.

Strong growth in the number of mobile phone users, which is expected to exceed 100 million next year, up from an estimated 85 million by end-2007, has boosted the profits of Indonesian operators.

The robust results lifted Indosat's share price by more than 3 percent to 8,450 rupiah, while the overall Jakarta market fell on renewed worries about the U.S. economy.

Third-quarter revenue jumped 35 percent to 4.19 trillion rupiah, based on Reuters calculations, as revenue from the cellular operations climbed 38.2 percent to 3.25 trillion rupiah.

Analysts surveyed by Reuters had expected Indosat to report a third-quarter net profit of 498.5 billion rupiah, on revenue of 4.04 trillion rupiah.

Asia Mobile Holding, a unit of Singapore state investor Temasek Holdings, owns about 40 percent of Indosat through its wholly-owned subsidiary ST Telemedia.

Indonesia's anti-trust agency, KPPU, said on Monday that Temasek and its units had breached the country's competition law and that one of its mobile phone operators had charged "excessive" tariffs.

KPPU ordered Temasek to sell its minority stake in either Telekomunikasi Selular (Telkomsel) or Indosat, and told it and its units to pay 25 billion rupiah ($2.68 million) in fines each, a ruling that analysts say could unnerve investors in Southeast Asia's most populous country.

Temasek said that it would challenge the order to sell its stake in one or other of its two Indonesian mobile firms in an international court if necessary.

ST Telemedia has 75 percent of Asia Mobile Holdings while Qatar Telecom owns the remaining 25 percent.

Indosat had more than 21 million mobile phone users in August, up from 16.7 million users at the end of 2006, and has said it hopes to beat its full-year target of adding between 5-6 million new users this year.

Before Indosat's announcement, analysts had said they expect the telecoms firm to report a net profit of 1.95 trillion rupiah for the full year, up from 1.4 trillion rupiah in 2006.

Revenue is expected to climb to 15.8 trillion rupiah this year, up from to 12.2 trillion in 2006.

Telkomsel, Indonesia's largest mobile phone operator, has a 53 percent share of the market, while Indosat is number two, with about 30 percent.