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Messaging app Line skyrockets in Tokyo trade as profits jump

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Tokyo (AFP)

Messaging app Line surged in Tokyo trade Thursday, posting its biggest gain since it was first traded on Japan's premier stock exchange in 2016 as the company reported better-than-expected earnings.

Shares in the company best known for its cartoon stickers -- which too-busy-to-text users rely on to communicate -- soared nearly 17 percent to close at 4,880 yen ($43).

The jump came as Line said third-quarter operating profit rose to 5.85 billion yen, handily beating market forecasts of a 4.3 billion yen profit and prompting Deutsche Bank to upgrade its view on the stock.

It was Line's largest one-day percentage rise since last year's dual listing in Tokyo and New York following a $1.3-billion initial public offering, according to Bloomberg.

The Tokyo-listed stock soared 32 percent on its first trading day last year.

On Wednesday, Line said quarterly advertising revenue jumped 41 percent from a year ago, even as active monthly users in key markets Japan, Thailand, Indonesia and Taiwan edged down to 168 million.

The app, which has a relatively small presence in the US and Europe, lets users make free calls, send instant messages and post photos or short videos, along with a host of other paid services.

The app -- launched in 2011 after Japan's quake-tsunami tragedy damaged telecoms infrastructure -- combines features from Facebook, Skype and WhatsApp with games and a mobile payment service.

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