Bharti Airtel, the second largest wireless operator in India delivered healthy growth “beyond expectations” in its first quarter of the current financial year, say multiple analysts. The operator on Tuesday reported its first quarter results with Airtel recording Rs 26,854 crore in quarterly revenue, translating to an 21.2% year-over-year (YoY) increase on “comparable basis.” Airtel recorded Rs 284 crore in consolidated net income while the average revenue per user (ARPU), a key financial metric, hit Rs 146 in its first quarter of the current financial year. The operator highlighted that its ARPU in its prior year quarter was at Rs 138 “on comparable basis” and Rs 145 in its previous quarter.
Bharti Airtel Delivered “Robust Performance Across Segments”
Axis Securities in a report on Thursday said that Airtel was “aided by strong 4G momentum” as the operator’s 4G user base increased by over 50 lakhs on a quarter-on-quarter (QoQ) basis. The Axis Bank subsidiary highlighted that the Airtel 4G user base at 18.4 crores translating to 57% of its overall user base.
Similarly, Motilal Oswal, an Indian diversified financial services firm in a report on Wednesday highlighted that Airtel recorded “steady earnings despite lockdown.” The firm said the “superior execution quality” by Airtel is “reflected in its strong performance over the last four quarters,” with the operator recording 30% earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) YoY growth. Motilal Oswal said that the operator recorded the growth “despite no tariff hikes” while also posting “consistent” user growth and gains in revenue market share.
“While the street has expressed concerns about the timelines of a potential tariff hike, we believe strong earnings growth is achievable even without a tariff hike,” Motilal Oswal said in its report on Wednesday.
It has to be noted that Airtel revised its corporate and retail postpaid plans in late July, with the minimum plans for corporate users now priced at Rs 299, up from Rs 199. Further, the operator also tweaked its retail postpaid plans with the price of its Rs 249 add-on pack increased to Rs 299.
ICICI Securities, a subsidiary of ICICI Bank on Wednesday said that the revisions to the postpaid plans will enable Airtel to record “strong” performance in its upcoming quarters.
“Next two quarters will also have strong earnings print from the recent tariff hikes and normalisation of recharge cycle in mobile,” ICICI Securities said in a report on Wednesday.
However, the firm said that Airtel had “all segments firing” in its first quarter including payments bank and home services, with the operator recording 71% YoY increase in its payments bank active users. ICICI Securities highlighted that the home broadband user base also increased by 37% YoY for the operator while its revenue increased 13% YoY.
In its quarterly report, Airtel highlighted that its broadband services are available in 387 cities across India including the cities where its services are provided in partnerships with local cable operators. Airtel said that it “accelerated” its partnerships with local cable operators (LCO) in non-wired cities as its LCO model is now live in 301 cities across the country.
“Airtel continues to make good progress through innovative propositions and providing differential experiences to accelerate its business growth,” Axis Securities said in its report on Thursday.
The firm highlighted that the operator recorded “robust performance across segments” with its businesses in India such as Home along with Direct-to-Home recording “strong growth.”
Airtel Xstream Fiber Set to be Available Across 2000 Cities
In its first quarter earnings call, Gopal Vittal, chief executive officer at Bharti Airtel said that the operator witnessed “continued growth in demand for high quality broadband triggered” by online education, work-from-home and entertainment users. Vittal said that the demand for high speed broadband aided the operator to add 285,000 new users in its first quarter with its overall broadband user base has now touched 33.5 lakhs.
“I believe fiber-to-the-home is a very large opportunity and we will continue to step up investments to take our network to over 2000 towns across India,” Vittal said in the first quarter earnings call.
Bharti Airtel CEO also said that the operator has been witnessing the “temporary disconnections made by small businesses and commercial offices” reactivating their connections.
According to the Telecom Subscription Data for the period ended May 31, 2021, as released by the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India, Airtel is the second largest wired broadband operator in India. The Trai data highlights that the operator had over 32 lakh wired broadband users while the state-run Bharat Sanchar Nigam Limited retained its top spot with over 60 lakh users.
Dolat Capital on Wednesday said that the operator continued to record wired broadband user additions post its tariff revisions in its second quarter of its previous financial year. The financial firm engaged in the trading markets said that the home broadband services of Airtel is at the “cusp of hyper-growth.”
“Bharti witnessed a healthy subscriber addition in Home broadband business with drop in ARPU,” Dolat Capital said in a report on Wednesday. “However, it envisages no further dilution in ARPU with healthy mix of customers across plans with Rs 799 being most attractive plan.”