Things are looking up for Hong Kong’s Hutchison Whampoa. The company reported better-than-expected first-half net profit, as the conglomerate run by tycoon Li Ka-shing posted a smaller loss on its 3G cellular operations.
Hutchison trimmed losses at its 3G wireless operations, a division of the company that has dragged on the company’s fiscal performance for years. 3 Group, which comprises Hutchison’s 3-G mobile operations in Austria, Australia, Denmark, Ireland, Italy, Sweden and the U.K., trimmed its operating losses 72%, leading the company to predict 3G would be profitable next near.
3 Group’s reported that its 3G subscriber base increased by 7% during the period, and currently stands at 19 million customers. Average revenue per user (ARPU) declined by 7% compared to the full year of 2007. Non-voice revenue as a percentage of total ARPU was 30% in the first half of the year.
Analysts argue whether the worst is over for the 3G unit, which has consistently underperformed for Hutchison. Although many believe the 3G business is poised to contribute, others suggest the company should sell off the division.