ITouch upbeat on prospects

ITouch announced third-quarter results yesterday which placed the mobile phone content company on track to meet market expectations for underlying earnings of £8.3m for the full year.

ITouch announced third-quarter results yesterday which placed the mobile phone content company on track to meet market expectations for underlying earnings of £8.3m for the full year.

The company, which is 34.8 per cent-owned by Independent News & Media, the publisher of The Independent, said earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) for the third quarter to 30 September were £2.5m, giving a total of £5.8m for the year so far. The market consensus is £8.3m Ebitda for the full year. Sales grew 37 per cent in the third quarter to £22.3m and 33 per cent for the first nine months to £56.1m, driven by a strong performance in Europe and the addition of new markets for its content products including South Africa and Australia.

The company supplies ringtones, games and screen savers to mobile phone users and has enjoyed strong growth thanks to the take-up of more advanced phones using the 2.5G technology that is gradually being superseded by third-generation (3G) phones. However, while 3G should eventually make a big difference to iTouch, it believes 2.5G will remain the dominant technology for some time.

Wayne Pitout, the chief executive, said: "I have always thought that 2005 would be the big year from an iTouch perspective. You will have 2.5G phones with critical mass with a 45 per cent penetration. I don't think we will see a big impact from 3G until Christmas next year and 2006."

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