Net profit for the quarter however fell from Rs854 crore in the October-December quarter, with average revenue per user (ARPU) dragged by the absence of interconnection usage charges (IUC). The telco had posted a loss of Rs5,237 crore a year back.
From January 1, IUC became zero from 6 paise a minute. This dragged ARPU to Rs145 from Rs 166 in October-December quarter, pulling quarterly consolidated revenue down 2.9% on-quarter to Rs 25,747 crore. Revenue though rose 12% on year.
In a statement Monday, Airtel said that excluding IUC, ARPU in the previous quarter would have been Rs135 and revenue in January-March quarter would have grown 17.6%.
The telco’s fourth quarter net profit was helped by a net one-time gain of over Rs440 crore related to proceeds from sale of airwaves to Reliance Jio Infocomm. Net profit before exceptional items was Rs 322 crore, compared with a loss of Rs 298 crore in the December ended quarter.
“Our mobile revenues grew at 19.1% YoY backed by 13.7 million 4G customer additions. We are seeing strong momentum in our homes business with 274000 net adds. The Enterprise segment delivered double digit growth,” Gopal Vittal, chief executive officer of Bharti Airtel, India, South Asia, said on Monday.
“Our digital assets continue to scale and we are beginning to see strong traction in monetisation of these assets,” he added.
The Sunil Mittal-led company’s shares fell 2% to Rs 549.55 at the close on the BSE on Monday, while the benchmark Sensex gained 1.7%. The telco’s earnings were announced after market hours.
Absence of IUC revenue had also dragged market leader Reliance Jio’s fiscal fourth-quarter revenue to Rs 17,358 crore from Rs 18,492 crore in the previous quarter. Its net profit came in at Rs 3,360 crore compared with Rs 3,291 crore in the fiscal third quarter. ARPU fell 8.5% on quarter to Rs138.2.
Airtel added 13.4 million mobile phone users to end the quarter with 321.4 million users. Including other services such as home broadband and enterprise, Airtel’s subscriber base stood at over 350 million. On a consolidated basis, the company – with operations in 18 countries, including India, Sri Lanka and 14 African nations, and joint ventures in two more – had over 471 million users compared with 458 million at the end of December.
The telco’s data usage per customer in India was 16.8 GB, flat compared with the preceding quarter, while voice minutes of usage rose to 1053 minutes from 1,027 minutes as people continued to use mobile internet while working from home, experts said. Jio’s average wireless data consumption per user per month was 13.3 GB, while average voice consumption came in at 823 minutes per user per month, both growing sequentially.
Vodafone Idea (Vi) is yet to report its quarterly earnings.
Airtel said its India revenue increased 10% on year to Rs 18337.8 crore but fell from to Rs 19,007 crore in the previous quarter. Mobile revenue grew 9% on year to Rs14,079.7 crore, which however was lower than the Rs14,778.9 crore it recorded in the October-December period.
“Operationally Bharti Airtel is doing well and we see green shoots of recovery. However, the disproportionate share of subscribers it was poaching from Vodafone Idea in comparison to Reliance Jio seem to have tapered off,” said Rohan Dhamija, partner & head (India & Middle East) at Analysys Mason.
Jio added over 14 million subscribers in the fiscal fourth quarter compared with the third when it added just over 5 million users to Airtel’s over 14 million.
Quarterly earnings before interest, tax, depreciation & amortization (Ebitda) margin expanded sequentially to 48.9% from 45.9%, mainly due to the nearly halving of access charges to Rs1564.9 crore as costs related to IUC payments went out.
The just-ended quarter saw the company unveil a new corporate structure that would sharpen the Sunil Mittal-led entity’s focus on digital operations and helps monetise them. The new structure will also remove telecom regulatory overhang on Airtel’s digital businesses and reduce statutory liabilities related to its mobility business.
Until now, Bharti Airtel housed the India telecom business and digital assets under Airtel Digital. Under the new structure, Bharti Airtel, housing the digital assets, becomes the holding company of the telecom business under Airtel Ltd.
On Monday, the company said that its digital services offerings saw robust growth.
“MAUs (monthly active users) increased to over 200 million across our key digital assets – Thanks, Wynk, Xstream. There are over 1.2 million retailers transacting and making payments every day on Mitra App. Online recharges continue to contribute around 50% of overall revenues,” Airtel said.
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