* Net profit up 5 pct to S$939 mln
* Revenue grows at fastest pace since Q1 2012
* Mobile customer base rises 8 pct to 555 mln
* Strong contribution from Indian associate Bharti Airtel (Adds details on results, outlook)
SINGAPORE, May 14 (Reuters) - Singapore Telecommunications Ltd, Southeast Asia’s largest telecommunications operator, posted a 4.5 percent rise in fourth-quarter net profit, helped by growth in customers and data services at its regional mobile associates.
Revenue rose at its fastest pace in almost four years as Singtel focuses on improving data use and areas such as digital marketing at a time when customers are using their phones less to make voice calls and send text messages.
Looking ahead, the company said earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation were expected to grow by low-single digits for the fiscal year ending March 2016.
Singtel posted a net profit of S$939 million ($709 million) for the three months ended in March, compared with S$898 million in the same period a year ago. Underlying net profit totaled S$950 million.
The average forecast for net profit from three analysts polled by Reuters was S$975 million.
Revenue rose 5 percent to S$4.34 billion, while its combined mobile customer base was up 8 percent to 555 million as at end March, from a year ago.
Singtel’s share of profits from its regional associates grew 23 percent, helped by Bharti Airtel Ltd, the top mobile phone operator in India, of which Singtel owns nearly a third. Airtel contributed 9 percent to the group’s underlying net profit, compared with 7 percent a year ago.
Singtel said it continued to review opportunities to raise stakes in its associates.
The company is making efforts to move away from being a pure-play telecoms company and last month said it would buy U.S.-based cyber-security firm Trustwave for $810 million, marking its biggest acquisition outside the telecoms sector.
Excluding Trustwave and acquisitions, consolidated revenue was expected to increase by mid-single digits for the year ending March 2016.
Shares of the company, valued at about $52 billion, have climbed 11.8 percent this year, outperforming a 2.6 percent rise in the broader market.
$1 = 1.3248 Singapore dollars Reporting by Aradhana Aravindan, Editing by G Crosse and Stephen Coates