Turkcell, Turkey's biggest mobile-phone company, may buy a cellular operator in eastern Europe as it seeks to grow outside Turkey, said Turkcell's Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Süreyya Ciliv at a press conference in Istanbul yesterday.
Turkcell is “interested in various companies in eastern Europe,” Ciliv said, declining to give further details.
Turkcell has a unit in Ukraine and is also in talks to acquire a stake in Syriatel, which has a 54 percent share of the Syrian cellular market. Those discussions should reach a “successful conclusion” by the end of March, Ciliv said.
Shares rise to two-month high:
Turkcell shares rose to a two-month high in Istanbul trading as fourth-quarter profit exceeded forecasts and sales rose to a record.
During the day, Turkcell shares rose as much as 6.6 percent to YTL 13, matching the year's highest closing price on Jan. 2. The stock closed at YTL 12.30 yesterday.
Fourth-quarter profit jumped 39 percent from a year earlier and sales rose to $1.81 billion, Turkcell said in a statement Wednesday night. The Istanbul-based company kept a market share of almost 60 percent, even as it raised prices while Vodafone Group Plc was seeking to lure customers with cheaper calls.
“We thought 2007 would be a difficult year for Turkcell, we were expecting stiffer competition, but we were proved wrong,” said Ömer Ömerbaş, an analyst at Ekspres Invest in Istanbul.
Net income was $403.2 million in the quarter, beating the average estimate of $360.5 million in a Bloomberg survey of seven analysts. Turkcell, the only Turkish company traded on the New York Stock Exchange, reports earnings in dollars.
Turkcell added 593,000 new subscribers in Turkey during the quarter, taking the total to 35.4 million. Vodafone added about 400,000 users in the period.
Turkcell's average revenue per user rose 31 percent to $15.50 a month. Customers made an average of 69.9 minutes of calls per month in the fourth quarter, down 5.7 percent from a year earlier, Turkcell said.
The company will pay a gross dividend of Ykr 29.5 per share, or a total of YTL 648.7 million ($546 million), starting from May 20, Turkcell said in a filing with the Istanbul Stock Exchange yesterday.
The proportion of Turks with mobile phones rose to 88 percent at the end of 2007, Turkcell's Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Süreyya Ciliv said in the statement. He forecast a 100 percent penetration rate by the end of 2008.
“Market growth is really good, and Turkcell is benefiting from this without even losing significant market share,” Ömerbaş said.
Turkcell's churn rate, or the proportion of customers who left the network for competitors, increased to 5.9 percent in the quarter from 4.4 percent a year earlier and 5.7 percent in the third quarter