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Telecom Companies in Philippines, Singapore Report Gains

Telecommunications companies in the Philippines and Singapore reported positive earnings and China's trade surplus hit a record high.

Philippines Long Distance Telephone (PLDT), the country's largest telecommunications provider, says its profit increased 13 percent in the first nine months of this year compared with a year earlier. Net income rose to $457 million.

Financial analysts say the results are encouraging and mean the company should meet market forecasts of a full-year net income of at least $530 million.

PLDT is one of the most profitable companies in the Philippines. The telecom giant operates more than half of the fixed lines in the Philippines and the largest mobile phone network.

But Gilbert Lopez, an analyst at the Manila office of Macquarie Securities, says it will be difficult to increase revenues from mobile phone calls, as a large percentage of the population already owns mobile phones.

"It is over 40 percent and given the relatively low per capita GDP [gross domestic product] of the Philippines I would consider that as relatively high," he said. "I think it is really an industry where there is really less growth potential than, say, in some countries, like Indonesia."

In other news from the telecommunications sector, SingTel, Southeast Asia's largest telephone company, reported net profit rose nearly 5.7 percent for the fiscal year's second quarter, compared with a year ago. Net profit for the three months to September was $473 million, higher than analysts' forecast. The growth was driven by strong contributions from the company's mobile phone associates in India and Indonesia.

China's trade surplus in October hit a record of nearly $12 billion, after it had dropped to just over $7.5 billion the previous month. The United States accounts for about a quarter of the surplus.

Exports jumped nearly 30 percent from a year earlier, driven partly by sales to U.S. and European retailers of Chinese-made toys, televisions and computers in the run-up to Christmas. The export growth outpaced a 23 percent gain in imports.

China agreed to supply five provinces in northern Vietnam with electricity, with expected annual sales of around $50 million.

China's Southern Power Grid Corporation signed a deal to sell 1.3 billion kilowatt-hours of electricity to the Vietnam National Power Corporation for at least 10 years.