JAKARTA, May 1 (Reuters) Indonesia's third largest mobile phone company, PT Excelcomindo Pratama Tbk, returned to profit in the first quarter thanks to a substantial foreign exchange gain, the company said in a statement.
Excelcom, controlled by Telekom Malaysia Bhd, posted a net profit of 345.6 billion rupiah (.41 million) in the first three months of 2006, compared with an around 3.3 billion net loss in the same period last year.
A foreign exchange loss and slightly higher financial charges pushed the company into the red in the year-ago period.
Excelcom posted a foreign exchange gain of around 356 billion rupiah in the January-March quarter compared with a 74.8 billion forex loss last year.
Strong subscriber growth pushed Excelcom's net revenue up 39 percent to 971 billion rupiah in the first quarter.
The company's total number of users reached around 8.2 million by the end of the first quarter from around 7 million in 2005.
Excelcom, which controlled around 16 percent of Indonesia's mobile phone market in the first quarter, saw its operating profit rise by some 35 percent to 234.3 billion rupiah.
Indonesia's mobile telecommunications sector grew 50 percent last year, and many in the sector are optimistic mobile phone users in the country of 220 million people will continue to grow rapidly and could reach 100 million subscribers by 2010.
State-run PT Telekomunikasi Indonesia Tbk, through its mobile phone arm PT Telekomunikasi Selular (Telkomsel), is the largest player in the industry and controls more than half the mobile phone market.
PT Indosat Tbk, is the number-two player with nearly a third of the market.
Excelcom's share price rose 5.5 percent in the first quarter, underperforming the 13.8 percent gain on the Jakarta index.
REUTERS MP RS1711