ABU DHABI, April 24 (Reuters) - United Arab Emirates-based telecoms operator Etisalat on Tuesday reported flat profit growth in the first quarter as higher expenses and impairments weighed on its bottom line.
Etisalat made a net profit attributable to shareholders of 2.11 billion dirhams ($575 million) in the three months ending March 31, 2018, it said in a statement. That compared with 2.10 billion dirhams in the same period a year ago. SICO Bahrain and EFG Hermes forecast that Etisalat would make a first quarter net profit of 2.12 billion dirhams and 2.28 billion dirhams, respectively. The firm which operates in 16 countries, earned 13.10 billion dirhams in revenues in the first quarter, versus 12.46 billion dirhams in the prior-year period.
Operating expenses in the first quarter were 8.52 billion dirhams, up 7 percent year-on-year. Impairments and losses booked in the first quarter jumped more than 400 percent when compared to the first-quarter of 2017. Etisalat’s subscriber base reached 144 million during the first quarter, a 3 percent growth year-on-year. In the UAE, its subscriber base touched 12.9 million, up 3 percent over the same period last year. Last month, Etisalat’s board approved to buy-back up to 5 percent of the company’s paid-up capital for the purpose of cancelling or reselling. (Reporting By Stanley Carvalho, editing by Tom Arnold)