SK Telecom, South Korea's top wireless operator, posted a 65.6-percent jump in its first-quarter net profits Wednesday, thanks to decreased marketing costs and stronger profits from its chip-making subsidiary.
Net profits for January to March amounted to 442.7 billion won ($410.1 million), up from 267.3 billion a year ago but down 12 percent from the previous quarter.
Operating profit soared 59.5 percent from a year ago to 402.6 billion won, while sales inched up 0.9 percent to 4.2 trillion won, the company said in a statement.
SK Hynix, the firm's chip-making unit, earlier reported a 61-percent jump in its first-quarter net profit on strong demand for chips for new handsets including Apple's iPhone 6.
In the first quarter of last year, SK Telecom outlaid an unusually large 1.1 trillion won for marketing to woo new subscribers before the onset of a 45-day partial business suspension slapped on the company as a penalty for offering illegal discounts.
It said it had spent relatively less on marketing this year, boosting its balance sheet compared to a year ago.
SK Telecom has about 28.4 million users -- about half of the South's vibrant mobile service market.
Some 61 percent of its customers are using the faster, higher-priced 4G service, up from 53 percent a year ago, further helping boost the firm's bottom line, it said.
Competition is fierce in the increasingly saturated wireless market in South Korea, which has some 41.2 million smartphone users in a population of 51 million.