Air­tel Net Up 2.8% at .₹ 1,290 cr on Data, Voice Ser­vices Surge

Profit beats Street es­ti­mates, com­pany’s board agrees to buy back shares worth .₹ 1,434 crore

The Economic Times - - Companies: Pursuit Of Profit - Our Bureau

New Delhi: Bharti Air­tel’s fourthquar­ter net profit rose 2.8% as con­sump­tion of data and voice ser­vices surged, off­set­ting com­pet­i­tive pres­sure on rates and higher in­ter­est costs. Profit at In­dia’s No. 1 tele­com car­rier rose to .₹ 1,290 crore from .₹ 1,255 crore a year ago, the com­pany said in statement on Wed­nes­day. Earn­ings were higher than .₹ 1,117 crore in the pre­vi­ous quar­ter. The com­pany was ex­pected to post a net profit of .₹ 1,221 crore for the quar­ter, ac­cord­ing to a Reuters poll. A Bloomberg poll pre­dicted profit at .₹ 1,150 crore. ET had es­ti­mated strong voice, but slow­ing data vol­ume growth.

Net in­ter­est costs jumped to .₹ 1,524 crore from .₹ 858 crore a year ear­lier, largely on ac­count of debt taken to buy spec­trum last year. The com­pany’s con­sol­i­dated net debt increased to $12.66 bil­lion from $11.91 bil­lion in the pre­vi­ous quar­ter.

Rev­enue rose 10.1% to .₹ 24,960 crore from a year ear­lier. The telco had 357.4 mil­lion cus­tomers across In­dia, South Asia and Africa af­ter adding 7.94 mil­lion mo­bile users in the quar­ter. “Our fo­cus on net­work and cus­tomers has re­sulted in a strong year of 12.4% Y-o-Y growth. Solid ex­e­cu­tion has re­sulted in an ac­cel­er­a­tion of rev­enue mar­ket share even as our non-mo­bile busi­nesses con­tinue to grow,” Gopal Vit­tal, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, In­dia & South Asia, said in the statement.

Air­tel recorded a 10.8% growth in voice vol­umes, the fastest in 18 quar­ters. With the pro­posed spec­trum ac­qui­si­tions from Video­con and Air­cel, Air­tel said it will be the only panIn­dia 2G/3G/4G op­er­a­tor and best placed in the in­dus­try to strengthen its lead­er­ship. The com­pany’s board agreed to buy back shares worth .₹ 1,434 crore through an open sale at .₹ 400 per share, rep­re­sent­ing 0.90% of eq­uity. The scrip climbed 3.54% to .₹ 373.15 at the close on the BSE, be­fore the re­sults were an­nounced.

Air­tel, al­most a third owned by Sin­ga­pore Telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions, has been of­fer­ing 4G ser­vices at 3G rates to at­tract data cus­tomers over the past few months. Data now ac­counts for al­most a quar­ter of the car­rier’s mo­bile rev­enue at 23.3% com­pared with 17.6% a year ago and 23.1% in the pre­vi­ous three-month pe­riod. Mo­bile data rev­enue in the coun­try dur­ing the quar­ter grew 44.5% on year to .₹ 3,357 crore.

Bharti’s In­dia unit saw an on-quar­ter 10% rise in mo­bile data traf­fic and a 2% se­quen­tial fall in av­er­age rev­enue per user (ARPU). It reg­is­tered a 4% fall in data re­al­i­sa­tion per MB due to in­creas­ing com­pe­ti­tion, which led to a re­duc­tion in data rates. Voice rates, too, are on a downward trend

36.80% 6,057 cr

251mil­lion 7.9 mil­lion

35% 6,446 cr

226 mil­lion 8.8 mil­lion across the in­dus­try due to in­tense com­pe­ti­tion. This en­cour­aged more calls and helped the com­pany’s voice busi­ness reg­is­ter a se­quen­tial growth of 6% in to­tal min­utes on the net­work and ARPU to rise marginally to .₹ 138 from .₹ 137. Av­er­age re­al­i­sa­tion from voice ser­vices per minute dipped 1%. Aditya Birla group com­pany Idea Cel­lu­lar, In­dia’s No. 3 telco, is due to re­port earn­ings on Thurs­day and is ex­pected to re­port a fall in profit due to com­pet­i­tive pres­sures ex­pand­ing to the data busi­ness dur­ing the quar­ter. Idea has pre­vi­ously said profit could suf­fer in suc­ces­sive quar­ters as com­pe­ti­tion for mo­bile data cus­tomers in­ten­si­fies and higher fi­nance charges set in. Our fo­cus on net­work and cus­tomers has re­sulted in a strong year of 12.4% Y-o-Y growth. Solid ex­e­cu­tion has re­sulted in an ac­cel­er­a­tion of rev­enue mar­ket share even as our non-mo­bile busi­nesses con­tinue to grow

Air­tel, al­most a third owned by Sin­ga­pore Tele, has been of­fer­ing 4G ser­vices at 3G rates to at­tract data cus­tomers over the past few months

GOPAL VIT­TAL BHARTI AIR­TEL CEO

Bharti Africa’s net loss nar­rowed to $59 mil­lion from $183 mil­lion a year ago on the back of a widen­ing data cus­tomer base, cur­rency ap­pre­ci­a­tion in key mar­kets and more than dou­bling of mo­bile data traf­fic.

Africa rev­enue, ad­justed for the im­pact of di­vest­ment of tower as­sets, grew 5.9% in the quar­ter over last year to $1.02 bil­lion, the fastest pace in the past six quar­ters. “De­spite the quar­ter sea­son­al­ity, data con­sump­tion and rev­enues are up by 110.1% & 43%, re­spec­tively. The con­tin­ued fo­cus on driv­ing cost ef­fi­cien­cies has re­sulted in Ebitda mar­gin im­prove­ment for a third con­sec­u­tive quar­ter,” said Chris­tian de Faria, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, Africa.

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