British mobile phone group Vodafone today reported a better-than-expected 4.3% rise in core earnings in the first half of the year, helped by improving trading in big European markets like Germany and Italy. 

The world's second biggest mobile operator reported earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of €7.9 billion, beating a €7.8 billion consensus forecast. 

Organic service revenue was up 2.4% in the second-quarter, unexpectedly ahead of the 2.2% recorded in the first quarter and ahead of consensus, the company said today. 

Vodafone slightly lowered the top of its range for full-year earnings to €15.7 to 16.1 billion. The top limit was previously €16.2 billion.

Vodafone's chief executive Vittorio Colao said the improvement in Europe was "modestly ahead" of expectations, led by Germany and Italy, and the group had executed its strategy well in emerging markets, although competition in India had increased. 

"We expect to sustain our underlying performance in the second half of the year and remain on track to meet our full-year objectives despite macroeconomic uncertainties," he said.

The three biggest players in the Indian market, leader Bharti Airtel, Vodafone and the third biggest player Idea Cellular, are being challenged by new entrant Reliance Jio Infocomm, backed by businessman Mukesh Ambani.