$CHL Posts Flat Profits on Higher Costs

China Mobile Ltd. (941), the world’s largest phone company by subscribers, reported its weakest profit growth in three quarters as higher costs eroded gains from an increase in users of high-speed network services.

Net income rose to 27.9 billion yuan ($4.5 billion) from 27.8 billion yuan a year earlier, the Beijing-based carrier said in a statement to the Hong Kong Stock Exchange today. Profit was expected to be 28 billion yuan, based on the median of five analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg News.

Chief Executive Officer Li Yue is fighting to maintain his lead in smartphone users over China Unicom (Hong Kong) Ltd. (762) and China Telecom Corp. by subsidizing handsets for third-generation data users and adding fourth-generation services. The company last month said it will bear costs for the TD-LTE network, or 4G network, previously borne by its state-owned parent, boosting the listed unit’s capital spending 49 percent to 190.2 billion yuan this year….”

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