Bharti Airtel has reported a decline in its net profit for the seventh successive quarter at Rs 306 crore. The telco’s net profit plunged 39.3% in the third quarter which ended December 21, 2017, from Rs 504 crore netprofit for the same quarter last year, largely impacted by lower interconnect charges (IUC). Airtel’s consolidated revenues stood at Rs 20,319 crore, down 8.4% year-on-year (a reported drop of 12.9%) on an underlying basis. Its India revenues for stood at Rs 15,294 crore, declined by 11.3% year-on-year (15.1% on reported) on an underlying basis, adjusted for the impact in the reduction of domestic termination rates, it said.
“Regulatory fiat in the form of a cut in domestic IUC rates has exacerbated the industry ARPU decline in Q3’18. The recent announcement of the reduction in International termination rates will further accentuate this decline and benefit foreign operators with no commensurate benefit to customers,” Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO, India & South Asia, said in a statement.
Vittal said that continued investments in data capacities, strategic partnerships with content and handset providers and focus on customer friendly innovations like data rollover has led to healthy customer additions of 8.1 million during the quarter. “Q3’18 has also seen the highest ever broadband site deployment of 32K in any quarter, complementing the robust data and voice traffic growth of 544% and 50% respectively on a Y-o-Y basis. We are committed to remaining the operator of choice for all customers in this rapidly consolidating industry,” he added.
The telco said that year-on-year de-growth primarily impacted by a mobile drop of 17.6%. India’s other businesses have witnessed healthy growth for example 10.4% in Digital TV and 7.2% in Airtel Business on a year-on-year basis.
The telco’s consolidated EBITDA at Rs 7,587 crore declined 11.5% year-on-year. Consolidated EBITDA margin increased by 0.6% to 37.3% in the quarter as compared to 36.7% in the corresponding quarter last year. Consolidated EBIT dropped by 26.5% year-on-year to Rs 2,701 crore. N
Net interest costs of Rs 2,081 crore have risen from Rs 1,810 crore in the corresponding quarter last year – largely due to lower investment income. During the quarter, forex and derivative losses were lower at Rs 7 crore compared to a loss of Rs 126 crore in the corresponding quarter last year. The Consolidated Net Income after exceptional items for the quarter stands at Rs 306 crore (Q2’18: Rs 343 crore) compared to Rs 504 crore in corresponding quarter last year.
The telco’s mobile data traffic has grown more than 6x to 1,106 billion MBs in the quarter as compared to 172 billion MBs in the corresponding quarter last year. Mobile broadband customers increased by 64.9% to 62.1 million from 37.7 million in the corresponding quarter last year.
The Sunil Mittal-led telco’s consolidated mobile data traffic at 1,178 million MBs in the quarter has registered a robust year-on-year growth of 460.4% on an underlying basis.
During the quarter, Bharti Airtel divested Ghana country operation in Africa. Africa revenues grew by 5.3% year-on-year led by strong growth in data and Airtel money transaction value. Mobile data traffic has grown by 95.3% to 66 billion MBs in the quarter as compared to 34 billion MBs in the corresponding quarter last year.
The company’s consolidated net debt has increased to Rs 91,714 crore from Rs 91,480 crore in the previous quarter. Net debt excluding the deferred payment liabilities to the DOT and finance lease obligations has decreased by Rs 724 crore sequentially in the quarter. Net debt to EBITDA ratio (LTM) for the quarter at 3.01 times (vs 2.91 times in the previous quarter). Lower EBITDA along with rising spectrum costs and continued investments in India have resulted in deterioration of Return on Capital Employed (ROCE) to 4.9% from 7.1% in the corresponding quarter last year.