Israel's leading cellular provider Cellcom netted NIS 175 million in the first quarter this year, 28% more than in the parallel period.

Revenue increased 4% against last year to NIS 1.2 billion.

Cellcom is controlled by BellSouth Corporation (NYSE:BLS), the Safra family and Discount Investment Corporation.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization grew to NIS 405 million, 9% more than in the parallel and fourth quarter last year.

Operating profit increased to NIS 195 million, 22% more than in the fourth quarter of 2001.

Efficiency measures cut sales costs to NIS 173 million, 8% less than in the fourth quarter.

The company had 2.3 million subscribers as at the end of the first quarter.

Leader DS Analyst Yuval Ben Zeev said that the top line shows Cellcom has continued to tread water another quarter. "The operating profit posted by Cellcom, NIS 195 million, is short of earlier estimates of NIS 215 million, and also EBITDA is less than we had estimated." He noted that the bottom line beat expectations, probably due to big profit from financing activities on the shekel's devaluation.

Yesterday it was reported that President and CEO Jacob Perry has agreed to stay in office. He was due to step down in May.