Bharti Airtel never shied away from Tariff Corrections, which the Industry needs for growth in need of the hour. A report from ICICI Securities now ascertains that Bharti Airtel has embarked on a market-testing tariff in two of its circles - Haryana (B Circle) and Odisha (C Circle). Let's see what ICICI Securities has highlighted in its report.
ICICI Securities earlier had a concern about the depleting Free Cash Flow generation on 5G CAPEX and a less likelihood of tariff hike from the telco in the competitive market.
What has changed now?
According to ICICI Securities, Airtel has selectively implemented a Tariff Hike in Haryana and Odisha circles, where the telco has withdrawn its entry-level minimum recharge pack of Rs 99, which used to be valid for 28 days. The Rs 99 Pack offers customers 99 Talktime and 200MB of data. Now, the entry-level minimum recharge pack in these two circles starts at Rs 155, which offers unlimited voice, 1GB of data and 300 SMSs. This tariff revision done by Airtel, according to ICICI Securities, is beyond their best-case scenario. A 57 per cent hike in the tariff, where the recharge plan caters to consumers where affordability matters the most.
With the removal of the Rs 99 recharge pack, airtel's all plans now have only unlimited voice offerings same as Reliance Jio.
As per ICICI Securities, this is a calculated move by Bharti airtel to check how consumers respond in Haryana (B Circle) and Odisha (C Circle), as this pack is largely being sold to 2G customers only without impacting its 4G customers. ICICI Securities also noted in its report that this tariff intervention is also a message/offer to competition that Bharti is ready to walk the talk on tariff hikes.
Revised Target Price to Rs 970
With this tariff hike, the concerns that ICICI Securities earlier had been addressed and thus, Revised Target Price of Bharti Airtel to Rs 970 from Rs 875.
ICICI Securities also noted that it is in favour of smaller and more frequent tariff hikes than one large hike as it would allow consumers to absorb the higher prices and would not add to inflation.
ICICI has also put forward that Bharti Airtel has taken the first Industry initiative in implementing the tariff hike, considering the current market scenario and expects the reaction from the competition.
If the competition follows Airtel in tariff hike, this should position the Indian telecom Industry very differently than global telco peers who have slow-growing revenue and depressed (and falling) Return on invested capital (RoICs) said ICICI in its report.