UPDATE 1-China Mobile Q3 profit flat as competition bites

* Q3 net profit 29.65 bln yuan vs 29.6 bln yuan forecast

* Jan-Sept ARPU 72 yuan vs 75 yuan year-ago

* Jan-Sept EBITDA margin 50.4 pct vs 51.3 pct year ago

* Shares up 14 pct so far this year, beating main board
(Adds details, quote)

HONG KONG, Oct 20 (BestGrowthStock) – China Mobile (0941.HK: ), the
world’s biggest mobile operator by subscribers, reported a 3.5
percent rise in quarterly earnings, matching expectations, as a
maturing market and intense competition eat into its profits.

The results could set the tone for rivals China Unicom
(0762.HK: ) and China Telecom (0728.HK: ), who are also expected to
post flat or a fall in profits when they report results next
week.

China Mobile reported July-September net profit of 29.65
billion yuan ($4.45 billion), based on Reuters calculations using
company data, matching an average forecast of 29.6 billion yuan
from five analysts polled by Reuters and up from 28.64 billion
yuan a year ago.

“As a result of the increasing penetration rate of mobile
telecommunications and the changes in the competition environment
of the telecommunications industry, the group’s customer growth
showed signs of slowing down,” the company said in a statement on
Wednesday.

China Mobile is the world’s biggest mobile operator by market
capitalisation and number of users. Its subscriber base of more
than 500 million users is bigger than the population of the
United States, Australia and Germany combined.

Despite that, mobile penetration in China remains low
compared to developed economies, where the number of mobile lines
often outnumber the total population of the country as some users
have more than one subscription.

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For China’s 3 carriers’ latest mobile subscribers figures:

http://r.reuters.com/caq54p

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Monthly average revenue per user (ARPU), a widely watched
industry indicator, fell to 72 yuan for the first nine months of
the year from 75 yuan a year earlier.

China Mobile’s margin for earnings before interest, taxes,
depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) clocked in at 50.4 percent
in the first nine months of the year, down from 51.3 percent the
same time a year ago.

Hong Kong-listed China Mobile shares are up about 14 percent
so far this year, beating a 7.7 percent rise on the benchmark
Hang Seng Index (.HSI: ).
(Reporting by Kelvin Soh; Editing by Anshuman Daga and
Jacqueline Wong)

UPDATE 1-China Mobile Q3 profit flat as competition bites