India's top telecommunications carrier, Sunil Mittal-led Bharti Airtel Ltd, reported its 11th consecutive quarter of profit decline as costs increased and a slowdown in customer additions limited revenue growth.
Bharti, controlled by billionaire Mittal, said on Wednesday that consolidated net profit fell 29.8 percent to 7.21 billion rupees ($132.5 million)for its fiscal second quarter ended September from 10.27 billion rupees a year earlier. Analysts had expected net profit of 7.46 billion rupees.
Bharti and its main rival, the local unit of Vodafone , are set to benefit after a court revoked the permits of several smaller rivals, which will cut the competition in a market that once boasted more than a dozen players.
The leading carriers, however, face the risk of paying out billions of dollars in regulatory fees over the next few years with the government planning to impose a surcharge on airwaves held by them and also because of reallocation, or switching, of their superior quality spectrum when their permits are renewed.
Bharti, nearly a third owned by Southeast Asia's top phone carrier, Singapore Telecommunications Ltd, operates in 20 countries across Asia and Africa and is the world's fourth-biggest mobile phone carrier by customers.
($1 = 54.4350 Indian rupees)
Airtel Q2 profit falls 29 pc to Rs 721 cr on rising costs
(PTI) Bharti Airtel, India's largest telecom operator, today reported its 11th consecutive quarter of net profit dip as rising costs and competition squeezed margins, forcing the company to look at increase in tariff.
Net profit in July-September dropped 29.7 per cent to Rs 721.2 crore from Rs 1,027 crore in the year ago period. The profit in the second quarter was 5 per cent lower than Rs 762.2 crore earning in April-June period of current fiscal.
"We have lost about 40 per cent pricing power in the last 12 quarters. Given the inflation that has hit this country over the last 12 quarters, least we deserve is to go back to the levels we were at," Bharti Airtel CEO for India and South Asia Sanjay Kapoor told reporters here.
The company said network cost had increased so as competition, putting pressure on margins.
"Otherwise we are never going to sort of money that everybody expects us to make and replough that back in to business," he added.
On overall performance of the company during the July-September 2012 quarter, Kapoor said, "Despite the seasonally most weak quarter, I think this performance is satisfactory."
Total income of the company during the reported quarter was up by 17.4 per cent at Rs 20,283.2 crore compared to Rs 17,276.4 crore for the corresponding period in previous financial year.
The average revenue the company earns from a user stood at Rs 177 per month in the reported quarter, compared to Rs 183 in the same period last year and Rs 185 in the April-June 2012 quarter.
As on September 30, 2012, overall customer base of the Bharti Airtel stood at 262.6 million, across 20 countries.
This includes 251.8 million wireless customers which took Airtel amongst the top four global operators in terms of subscribers base.
Bharti Airtel's customer base in India stood at 196.65 million at the end of reported quarter.
At the end of second quarter of FY'13, the company has 5.4 million active 3G customers of which 4 million are active 3G data customers.
Bharti Airtel made cumulative investments of Rs 1,87,719.7 crore on global level till the end of July-September 2012 quarter. The company invested Rs 74,745.9 crore in its mobile services business in India and South Asia region.
The company reported revenues of over Rs 500 crore from data (internet) services in the quarter.
Kapoor said the company is expanding its 4G network in the country and is expected to cover more cities during the ongoing quarter.
"I cannot share details but Delhi and Mumbai launch are not likely to happen in this quarter," he said.
Bharti Airtel has licence for 4G services in Maharashtra, Kolkata, Karnataka and Punjab. The company acquired stake in Qualcomm's Indian venture which has licence for 4G services in Delhi, Mumbai, Kerala and Haryana circles.
The company's consolidated revenue from Africa increased by 29 per cent to Rs 6,051.2 crore in the quarter, compared to Rs 4,703.2 crore in the same period a year ago.
It had 58.7 million GSM mobile customers on its African network at the end of September, 2012.
"We have achieved leadership position in most of the African market," Bharti Airtel's CEO (International) and Joint MD Manoj Kohli said.
During the quarter, the company added 2.8 million customers. The ARPU (average revenue per user) for the quarter was USD 6.4 per month in Africa.
At the end of July-September quarter, the company had a net debt of Rs 66,760 crore.
This includes Rs 2,371.9 crore, representing 49 per cent of the net debt of the Qualcomm subsidiaries, into which Bharti Airtel acquired stakes in May, 2012.
The consolidated net debt in during the quarter increased by USD 540 million, the company said.
Shares of Bharti Airtel were trading at Rs 270.95, down by 0.93 per cent, at BSE.
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