Bharti net doubles@Rs 610 cr

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India’s biggest telecom operator, Bharti Airtel, on Wednesday reported more than doubling of its consolidated net profit to Rs 610 crore for the December quarter from Rs 284 crore in the corresponding quarter of last year.

This marked an end to the sliding YoY growth in the net profit the firm had been clocking over the past 16 quarters, sequentially.

Nonetheless, the numbers came in quite lower than Rs 1,035 crore anticipated by a poll of 30 analysts on Bloomberg, thanks to exceptional tax related provisions.

The firm reported losses of Rs 221.30 crore on exceptional items after deducting Rs 67.40 crore gains due to reversal of exception charge it recorded in the September quarter.

The losses included tax expenses worth Rs 272 crore, of which Rs 257.20 crore worth of tax provisions were made for various dispute settlements.

Excluding losses on exceptional items, the firm’s total profit stood at Rs 814 crore.

The telecom operators’ earnings last beat Bloomberg poll expectations in Q4FY10, data showed.

“The bottomline was impacted by tax expenses. However, Ebitda margin was broadly in line with our expectations,” said Rikesh Parekh of Motilal Oswal Financial Services.

“There were no major negative surprises on African operations either, with mobile voice pricing remaining stable at 3.31 cents per minutes. Some fall in growth was seen in passive infra tower business, but its contribution is marginal,” Parekh added.

The company said its consolidated total revenues rose 13.3 per cent YoY to Rs 21,939 crore, which included a 105 per cent YoY growth in its mobile internet revenues at Rs 1,736 crore.

The domestic business recorded 10.33 per cent YoY growth in revenue with DTH and airtel business segments clocking 25.8 per cent and 13.9 per cent, growth in revenues, respectively.

International revenues, on the other hand, grew by 18.5 per cent YoY in rupee terms with Africa and South Asian markets growing 17.2 per cent and 44.8 per cent, respectively, on YoY basis.

“Non-voice (in Africa) is contributing to nearly 20 per cent of overall revenue. Data traffic in Africa on a blended average has actually increased 120 per cent YoY. Our focus is continued on the continent to roll out and increase our 3G presence, which is now in 14 countries out of the 17,” Saravjit Singh Dhillon, CFO of Bharti said in an earnings call. Its transcript was available with Bloomberg.

The consolidated earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) rose 22.8 per cent YoY at Rs 7,093 crore. The consolidated profit margin also expanded to 32.30 per cent in Q3FY14 from 29.8 per cent in Q3FY13.

Domestic voice realisation improved by 1.96 paise YoY basis to 37.13 paise in the third quarter, compared with 35.17 paise the same quarter of last year.

The management said that there was more room for cut in discounted and a gradual movement up of voice realisation.

The mobile average revenue per user (ARPU) for domestic business improved by Rs 9.70 to Rs 195 for the quarter. The overall ARPU for African business stood at $5.8.

Data customer base climbed 31.2 per cent YoY to 5.44 crore while usage per customer jumped 54.4 per cent YoY.

“Overall, the key surprise from the results was better than expected India cellular margins and Africa business revenue growth. However, similar to Idea, minutes of usage (MOU) growth was slow – implying changing industry dynamics of slowing MOU due to free minutes being curtailed,” said Ankita Somani, telecom analyst at Angel Broking.

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