SK Telecom says profits in Q4 double

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SK Telecom says profits in Q4 double

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SK Telecom, Korea’s largest mobile-phone operator, said fourth-quarter profit more than doubled after selling real estate and a stake in steelmaker Posco.

Net income jumped to 519.1 billion won ($477 million) from 195.5 billion won a year earlier, the Seoul-based company said in a regulatory filing yesterday. That trailed the 546.4 billion won average of 16 analyst estimates. Sales rose 6 percent to 4.2 trillion won.

SK Telecom raised 727 billion won selling property and about 1 percent of Posco to help pay for new long-term evolution, or LTE, networks. KT, the country’s second-largest mobile phone operator, is also rolling out LTE, which offers quicker connection speeds.

“LTE subscribers will continue to increase this year,” said Kim Jang-won, an analyst with IBK Securities. “That will eventually translate into a higher top line.”

Korean telecommunications companies may also pare marketing spending this year after the industry regulator last month ordered temporary halts to the enrollment of subscribers, Kim said. The Korea Communications Commission fined SK Telecom 6.9 billion won and banned it from signing up new customers for 22 days starting Jan. 31. KT and LG U+ also were penalized.

SK Telecom’s fourth-quarter operating profit rose 38 percent to 544.6 billion won. KT said last week that its net income fell 55 percent to 93.6 billion won in the quarter.

The operator had 7.53 million LTE subscribers at the end of last year, it said. It introduced the service in July 2011. The company offers a number of LTE-enabled smartphones, including Apple’s iPhone 5 and Samsung Electronics’ Galaxy S III. Bloomberg

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