(LEAD) KT Q1 net profit up 26.9 pct on strong sales

KT Corp., a major South Korean mobile carrier, said Friday its first-quarter net income rose 26.9 percent from a year earlier on higher sales. Its net profit came to 393 billion won (US$286.8 million), compared with 309.6 billion won a year ago, the company said in a regulatory filing. Operating income for the January-March period increased 4.2 percent on-year to 506.5 billion won, and revenue gained 3.3 percent to 6.65 trillion won. The earnings exceeded market expectations. The average estimate of net profit by analysts stood at 355.8 billion won, according to a survey by Yonhap Infomax, the financial data firm of Yonhap News Agency. The company attributed its strong performance to the overall growth of its business-to-customer and business-to-business (B2B) sectors. Its mainstay mobile business saw its sales grow 1.9 percent on-year to 1.74 trillion won, thanks to an increase in fifth-generation network subscribers and stronger demand for roaming and mobile virtual network operator services. Cable s ales added 1 percent to 1.32 trillion won on increased GiGA internet and IPTV subscribers. Sales from corporate services also climbed 5 percent to 895 billion won on higher profits from B2B projects and stronger demand for artificial intelligence transformation. KT said sales from its five major future growth engines, including its AI contact center, internet of things, smart mobility and smart space, also advanced 4.9 percent on-year to 92.8 billion won. The company said its real estate and cloud service arms also showed robust growth last year. KT estate Inc. raised 135.7 billion won in sales, up 20.3 percent on-year, and KT cloud Co. saw its sales go up 17.8 percent on-year to 175.2 billion won. But BC Card Co., KT's financial affiliate, posted a 1.8 percent decrease in sales to 935.6 billion won. The mobile carrier said it plans to hand out cash dividends worth 500 won per share to its stockholders and buy back 5.14 million shares for stock cancellation. Source: Yonhap News Agency