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Vodafone has posted improved profits, with the company predicting a shortage in mobile phones over the Christmas period. The UK’s largest mobile phone group saw pre-tax profits leap 60 per cent to £477 million for the six months ended September 30. Turnover was up 34 per cent to £1.56 billion, with Vodafone saying there was no sign that the slowdown in economic growth was affecting this area of business. UK turnover rose 11 per cent to £966.5 million, but operating profits were only up 7 per cent to £302.6 million due to cost cuts. Chris Gent, chief executive, estimated that 1.5 million new subscribers in the UK would sign up in the Christmas quarter. He put this down to tariff cuts and pay-as-you-go deals, saying he expected a shortfall of around 50,000 phones during the period. The Vodafone prepaid service reported 419,000 customers at the end of September, against 51,000 a year ago. ®

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