Britain's Vodafone has posted a rise in quarterly sales for the first time in nearly three years. As Ciara Lee reports it's the clearest sign yet that Europe's mobile market is edging towards recovery.
Its first rise in quarterly sales in almost three years - Britain's Vodafone is feeling connected. It's the clearest sign yet that Europe's mobile market is beginning to recover. The world's second largest mobile operator had been hit hard by a fall in consumer spending, as well as a pressure from regulator-imposed price cuts. Richard Hunter is from Hargreaves Lansdown. (SOUNDBITE) (English) RICHARD HUNTER, HEAD OF EQUITIES AT HARGREAVES LANSDOWN STOCKBROKERS, SAYING: "It's been trying to shrug off the shackles of being regarded as an ex growth stock for some considerable time now. The full year results show that potentially they are at last making some progress. Obviously they have had the acquisition of Cable Deutschland and also ONO. Thos are reportedly being integrated on track with the synergies they expected coming on board. They've shown some strong growth in the emerging markets." The stronger results follow the likes of Telefonica and Deutsche Telekom - also showing signs of gradual improvement. (SOUNDBITE) (English) RICHARD HUNTER, HEAD OF EQUITIES AT HARGREAVES LANSDOWN STOCKBROKERS, SAYING: "The consolidation of broadband, paytv mobile, into the overall quad play offering is something which is largely being considered. The media and telecoms sector in Europe remains one absolutely ripe for consolidation. Certainly strong numbers from the likes of Telefonica may just flush out a few potential bidders." Vodafone has almost 450,000 mobile customers around the world. It saw small improvements in Italy, Spain and Portugal while its biggest market Germany remained weak. . The European market overall is expected to stabilise over the next two years and return to top-line growth in 2017. Demand for superfast 4G connections is also helping.