August 15, 2018 / 7:32 AM / a year ago

Israel's Partner Comms Q2 profit misses estimates

TEL AVIV, Aug 15 (Reuters) - Partner Communications , Israel’s second-largest mobile phone operator, reported on Wednesday a 96 percent drop in quarterly profit as it continues to invest heavily in the deployment of a fibre optics network and its TV service.

Partner earned 2 million shekels ($543,183) in the second quarter, down from 46 million a year earlier. Revenue slipped 1 percent to 797 million shekels, with its cellular subscriber base falling by 1 percent to 2.65 million.

Its shares traded 2 percent higher at 0730 GMT as investors focused on its new TV customer gains.

According to a Reuters poll of analysts, Partner was forecast to record net profit of 10.25 million shekels on revenue of 800 million shekels.

Partner’s revenue and profit have plunged in the wake of a 2012 reform that opened up the mobile market to new players, sharply reducing prices. It is seeking new revenue streams and making a push to become an integrated multi-service telecoms group.

Partner said that in accordance with its share buyback plan of up to 200 million shekels, its board approved the repurchase of a second tranche totalling 50 million shekels. The first tranche of 50 million shekels was completed last week.

The company said over 100,000 households had connected to the internet-based TV service it launched a year ago in partnership with Netflix. In April, Partner signed a deal with Amazon Prime Video.

“We have made substantial progress on our fibre optic infrastructure deployment, reaching over 170,000 households in dozens of cities throughout Israel,” Partner Chief Executive Isaac Benbenisti said. ($1 = 3.6820 shekels) (Reporting by Tova Cohen Editing by Alexandra Hudson)

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