Johannesburg - MTN Group [JSE:MTN]
reported an expected narrow rise in first-half profit on Wednesday, as Africa's top mobile operator was knocked by currency swings and slower growth in some of its major markets, yet still delivered a hefty dividend increase.
MTN said adjusted headline EPS for the six months to end-June totalled 470.1c, up 7.2% from 438.6c a year earlier.
Headline EPS, South Africa's main profit measure, excludes certain one-time items.
The company cautioned in June that revenue in the first four months of the year was only marginally higher, as a result of the stronger rand.
A strong rand is a negative for MTN, because it eats into profits when overseas earnings are brought home.
The company said it would pay an interim dividend of 273c per share, compared to last year's first-half dividend of 151c.
Revenue totalled R56.5bn compared with R56bn last year, while subscribers topped 152 million.
MTN, which is active across 21 countries in Africa and the Middle East, has been looking to increase its data revenue as the mobile industry matures in several of its key markets, leaving less room from growth.
The company also said last year it would focus on increasing its pay-outs to shareholders, given fewer opportunities for acquisitions in emerging markets.
Shares of MTN have risen nearly 4% so far this year, compared with a 6% drop in Johannesburg's Top-40 index .