China Mobile (HKEx: 941; NYSE: CHL), under new leadership as long-serving Chairman Wang Jianzhou gets set to retire, is showing signs of new life on several fronts, including some of its best earnings in quite a while. The company reported its second-quarter profit rose 7 percent — a figure that might look boring by anyone else’s standards but marks a sharp improvement for a company that has reported low single-digit growth and even one decline for most of the past three years. (English article) The company credited the growth to revenue from stronger data services traffic, an area that China Mobile had neglected in the last two years after failing to win a 3G license based on globally developed technology and instead being forced to use a homegrown standard. After those two years of denial, China Mobile seems to finally be not only facing its less-than-ideal 3G reality but also embracing it, pushing hard for a deal to develop and offer a version of Apple’s (Nasdaq: AAPL) popular iPhone based on its homegrown 3G standard. After welcoming Apple’s COO Tim Cook to its Beijing headquarters in June as part of those talks (previous post), China Mobile disclosed last week that none other than Apple chief Steve Jobs himself has joined the negotiations, indicating a deal is likely in the next 1-2 months and the company could offer its own 3G iPhones by the end of the year. Wang is also keeping up China Mobile’s pressure on the telecoms regulator to issue 4G licenses sooner rather than later, saying the company’s 4G trial networks in 6 major Chinese cities could be ready for commercialization by next year. (Chinese article) The commercial launch of such 4G service, which uses more reliable technology than China Mobile’s 3G network, would bring even more momentum back to China Mobile at the expense of smaller rivals China Unicom (HKEx: 762; NYSE: CHU) and China Telecom (HKEx: 728; NYSE: CHA), and if all goes according to plan I could easily see China Mobile returning to double-digit profit growth as soon as the end of this year.
Bottom line: China Mobile is rapidly regaining momentum under its new leadership, and could easily return to double-digit profit growth by the end of this year.
中国移动(0941.HK)董事长王建宙即将退休，在新领导层带领下，中移动在各方面显露出新成长迹象，包括近期财报表现出色。中移动财报显示，其第二季度利润同比增长约7%，这在其它公司看来或许表现平平，但过去三年中多数时候，中移动一直以个位数低幅增长，甚至出现一次亏损，因此这一增幅标志着其经营状况大幅改观。中移动将此归功于数据服务流量增加，中移动在两年前的3G牌照颁发中仅取得中国自主研发的TD-SCDMA标准後，一直未对数据服务领域给予重视。两年之後，中移动似乎终于面对并接受其差强人意的3G现实并积极应对，正努力争取达成协议，提供基于TD-SCDMA标准的苹果(AAPL.O)iPhone。苹果首席运营官库克（Tim Cook）6月到访中移动北京总部谈判，中移动上周披露，苹果首席执行官乔布斯亲自参与谈判，表明协议或在1-2个月内完成，中移动年底前或推出TD-SCDMA版3G iPhone。王建宙还将继续敦促工信部尽早发放4G牌照，称中移动在六大城市的TD-LTE试点网络预计明年可以实现商用。由于中国移动的4G技术比现有的3G技术可靠，服务商用化启动，4G的商用将对中移动更为有利，但代价是牺牲中国联通(0762.HK, CHU.N)和中国电信(0728.HK, CHA.N)等规模较小的竞争对手，如果一切依中移动的计划推进，我认为，中移动在年底前将轻而易举地恢复利润两位数增长。
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