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Russia's MTS raises full-year sales growth guidance
November 17, 2015 / 1:36 PM / in 2 years

Russia's MTS raises full-year sales growth guidance

* Sees 2015 sales up more than 4 pct vs pvs fcast of 2 pct

* Third-quarter revenue rises 7.4 pct y-o-y

* Net income falls 6.6 pct 14 bln roubles

* Shares rise 4.4 pct

MOSCOW, Nov 17 (Reuters) - Russia’s top mobile phone operator MTS raised its guidance for full-year 2015 revenue guidance on Tuesday after third-quarter sales were lifted by higher mobile internet useage.

The company, controlled by conglomerate Sistema, said it now expected revenue growth to exceed 4 percent in rouble terms compared with its previous guidance for more than 2 percent. It achieved growth of 3.1 percent in 2014.

Shares in MTS were up 4.4 percent by 1301 GMT on the Moscow Exchange against a 2.4 percent rise in the broader index.

In Russia, the company’s biggest market ahead of Ukraine and several other former Soviet republics, revenue was also seen rising 4 percent, MTS said, while its previous guidance called for growth of 3 percent.

In the third quarter, total sales grew 7.4 percent to 115 billion roubles ($1.8 billion), with Russian revenue rising 4.7 percent to 104 billion roubles.

“This growth was driven by strong data adoption across our operating markets, and in Russia, our top line was supported by increasing smartphone sales across our retail network,” MTS said in a statement, adding its mobile data revenue in Russia jumped 20 percent year-on-year in July-September.

Rival Megafon last month reiterated its guidance for flat revenue in 2015 as it posted a 0.3 percent rise in third-quarter sales.

MTS had earlier cut prices on smartphones in its shops as demand tumbled because of the economic crisis caused by lower oil prices and Western sanctions over Ukraine. The move has helped drive sales, while squeezing profit.

MTS’s operating income before depreciation and amortisation (OIBDA) fell 2 percent year-on-year to 48 billion roubles and its OIBDA margin slid to 41.7 percent from 45.7 percent a year ago, hit also by cost inflation and lower profitability in non-Russian businesses, it said.

Net profit fell 6.6 percent to 14.4 billion roubles as a result of the lower OIBDA and a non-cash 3.3 billion rouble foreign exchange loss related to its foreign currency debt.

The company said it was keeping its guidance for an OIBDA margin of more than 40 percent and that its board would discuss a new dividend policy in spring next year, when the existing policy is due to expire.

It also said it had made no provisions in relation to an investigation regarding its business in Uzbekistan.

$1 = 65.5250 roubles Reporting by Anastasia Teterevleva; Writing by Maria Kiselyova; Editing by David Holmes

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