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Wednesday, 8 May, 2002, 08:31 GMT 09:31 UK
NTT DoCoMo's profits wiped out
NTT DoCoMo advert
The company says next generation mobile sales will soar
The Japanese mobile phone giant NTT DoCoMo's net profits were almost wiped out during the year to March.

The company, which pioneered 'i-mode' internet-enabled mobile phones and third-generation (3G) mobile services, blamed failed overseas investments for its misfortune.

But the fact that the company stayed in the black came as a surprise, because its own predictions last month had indicated that it would make a loss for the year.

NTT DoCoMo reported net profits of 862m yen (4.6m; $6.7m), down from last year's net profits of 365.5bn yen.

The company's operating profits rose 29% to 1,000bn yen while its sales rose 10.4% to 1,170bn yen.

In April, the company had predicted a loss of 36bn yen, due to a 813bn yen writedown it was making on its overseas investments.

Saturated market

Looking ahead, NTT DoCoMo predicted growth, though not as rapid as in the past.

The company already counts almost six in 10 of Japan's mobile phone users among its customers.

With the home market approaching saturation, the company said its subscriber base should grow by 3.9% this year, down from last year's 13.3% growth.

It also predicted that its 3G services would prove more popular, and that the subscriber base to the these services would soar from 89,000 last year to almost 1.4 million people by next March.

International growth

NTT DoCoMo said it was also looking abroad for expansion opportunities, despite its recent costly flops.

The company took minority stakes in mobile phone firms across the world when its i-mode phones were launched in 1999.

But having bought at the height of the hi-tech boom, NTT DoCoMo was hit with a 1,860bn yen loss on these investments when the dot.com bubble burst.

Marking the start of a fresh international push by NTT DoCoMo, the French mobile operator Bouygues Telecom last month said it was to introduce the i-mode system of offering internet-style information and services to its customers within a year.

NTT DoCoMo's shares fell almost 1% ahead of the earnings announcement, which came after the markets had closed.

See also:

17 Apr 02 | Business
France gets new mobile net services
04 Apr 02 | Business
NTT poised to swallow huge loss
28 Mar 02 | Business
NTT DoCoMo braces for loss
22 Feb 02 | Business
The secret of NTT's i-mode success
28 Jan 02 | Business
NTT DoCoMo shares surge
17 Sep 01 | Business
Vodafone targets Japanese takeover
24 Aug 01 | Business
NTT DoCoMo in European tie-up
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