By Tim Seymour
Norway's Telenor (OTCPK:TELNY) has evolved into a core player in emerging telecom markets. Its stake in VimpelCom (NASDAQ:VIP) is only a slice of its global empire. Telenor turned a profit of $527 million last quarter, up a stunning 186% from $196 million in the first quarter of 2010.
As with many global conglomerates, TELNY saw revenue from its home market decline while emerging markets activity surged. In India, for example, TELNY booked 13% more revenue on an annualized basis, even though the high cost of building out its cell network there left that operation unprofitable. Compare that to a 4% decline in Norway.
Despite the strong turnaround in profitability, CEO Jon Fredrik Baksaas is not happy with the company's overall margins -- 31% on EBITDA -- and vows that an extensive cost-cutting campaign is on the horizon.
TELNY has struggled with its partner VimpelCom for years now over issues of control over the company and, most recently, its unpopular merger with Orascom Telecom (OTC:ORSTF).
But TELNY is still a seasoned investor in the emerging markets space — and a world-class mobile operator in its own right. Exposure ranges from Scandinavia to the faster-growing economies of South and Southeast Asia.