After six consecutive quarters of losses, Bharti Airtel returned to the black, posting a net profit of Rs 854 crore in the October-December period on the back of a one-time benefit related to the merger of Bharti Infratel and Indus Towers and a strong addition of data users that led to record revenues.
Revenue in the fiscal third quarter was Rs26,518 crore, up 24.2 percent year on year. 14.2 million users were added by Airtel, the most in four years, and subscribers switched to higher-paying plans, helping push up average revenue per user (ARPU) from Rs 162 in July-September to a three-year high of Rs 166.
In comparison with losses of Rs 763 crore in the July-September period, and Rs1035 crore a year earlier, the telco announced a profit helped by a one-time gain of Rs1151.7 crore.
However, the telco reported a net loss of Rs298 crore prior to exceptional products.
We delivered another good result this quarter, considering the unparalleled uncertainty that we have encountered throughout the year. This consistency in results was reflected in the growth of market share across all our business segments across every portion of our portfolio,” said Gopal Vittal, Chief Executive, Bharti Airtel, India, South Asia, on Wednesday.”
The quarter’s key highlight was the approximately 13 million 4G customers that we added to our wireless business. As a result, over the same timeframe last year, we increased our sales by about 25 percent and margins expanded,” he added.
Profit, however, was weighed down by a 32% year-on-year spike in net finance costs, mainly due to higher forex losses partially offset by lower borrowing interest, the telco said.
Airtel shares rose 1.5 percent to Rs 608.80 at Wednesday’s close on the BSE, while the Sensex benchmark gained 0.9 percent. After the market hours, earnings were announced.
Market leader Reliance Jio Infocomm, which announced its results on 22 January, posted an Rs3,291 crore net profit on revenue of Rs 18,492 crore. On the back of 5.2 million net user additions, the ARPU came in at Rs151, while the average wireless data consumption per user per month was 12.9 GB and the average voice consumption was 796 minutes per user per month.
By contrast, with nearly 308 million cell phone users in India, Airtel ended the year. The business, with operations in 18 nations, including India, Sri Lanka, and 14 African countries, and joint ventures in two more, had almost 458 million users on a consolidated basis.
In India, telco’s data use per customer was 16.8 GB, compared with 16.4 GB in the previous quarter, while voice minutes of use increased from 1,005 to 1027 minutes, as more people used mobile internet while working from home, experts said.
Its quarterly earnings are yet to be announced by Vodafone Idea (Vi).