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Rediff.com  » Business » Jio woes: Airtel Q1 net profit tanks 75% to Rs 367 crore

Jio woes: Airtel Q1 net profit tanks 75% to Rs 367 crore

July 25, 2017 21:06 IST

Average data usage on Airtel India network grew about three fold to 2611 megabyte (about 2.5 GB) per customer from 904 MB on YoY basis. But the average revenue from the data services per customer declined by 22.7 per cent during the period.

Bharti Airtel, India's largest telecom company, on Tuesday reported its smallest profit in 18 quarters as the price war triggered by newcomer Reliance Jio led to a massive 75 per cent fall in its April-June earnings.

The net profit for the first quarter of 2017-18, at Rs 367 crore (Rs 3.67 bilion), was 74.9 per cent lower than the year-ago period, and the company blamed the disruptive pricing of the new entrant for continued "turbulence" and stress in the market.

The net income for the Sunil Mittal company stood at Rs 1,462 crore (Rs 14.62 billion) in the first quarter of 2016-17.

The June quarter net profit is the lowest since December 2012 for Bharti Airtel which along with other established telecom firms has been engaged in a fierce tariff war with

Mukesh Ambani controlled Reliance Jio.

"The pricing disruption in the Indian telecom market caused by the entry of a new operator continued with industry revenues declining over 15 per cent year-on-year, creating further stress on sector profitability, cash flows and leverage," Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO, India and South Asia, Bharti Airtel said in a statement.

Vittal stopped short of directly naming the new entrant.

The company's total revenue fell by 14 per cent to Rs 21,958 crore (Rs 219.58 billion) during the quarter under review, from Rs 25,546 crore (Rs 255.46 billion) in the corresponding period of last year.

Bharti Airtel has been able to control to an extent the drastic sequential slide in its net income that had set in after the launch of Reliance Jio's 4G services in September 2016.

The quarter-on-quarter fall in net income stood at 1.7 per cent when compared to Rs 373.4 crore (Rs 3.73 billion) in the March quarter.

On a sequential basis, the net profit had slumped as much as 65.5 per cent between the second and the third quarter of last financial year ended March 31.

The earnings numbers of the first quarter of this fiscal came in after the market hours.

Incidentally, April-June was the first quarter of charged 4G services by rival Reliance Jio. The newcomer has recently raised the competitive intensity in the sector with the launch of its bundled "zero cost" Jio phone.

Bharti Airtel's consolidated net debt has decreased to Rs 87,840 crore (Rs 878.4 billion) from Rs 91,400 crore (Rs 914 billion) in the previous quarter.

The operating free cash flow of Bharti Airtel also declined by 73.5 per cent to Rs 1,237 crore (Rs 12.37 bilion) in the reported quarter from Rs 4,666 crore (Rs 46.66 billion) in the same quarter of 2016-17.

"Lower EBITDA along with rising spectrum interest and amortisation costs has resulted in deterioration of Return on Capital Employed (ROCE) to 5.6 per cent from 7.6 per cent in the corresponding quarter last year," the statement said.

Net interest costs of Rs 1,789 crore (Rs 17.89 billion) have risen from Rs 1,631 crore (Rs 16.31 billion) in the corresponding quarter last year – largely due to increased spectrum related interest costs.

The forex and derivative loss for June quarter was at Rs 39 crore (Rs 390 million) compared to loss of Rs 309 crore (Rs 3.09 billion) in the same period last year.

Airtel's India revenues declined by 10 per cent in the June quarter to Rs 17,244 crore (Rs 172.44 billion), hurt by the performance of the mobile services segment.

The total customer base of Airtel in India increased by 9.7 per cent to over 28 crore but its average revenue per user declined by 21.1 per cent to Rs 154 from Rs 196 on YoY basis.

Average data usage on Airtel India network grew about three fold to 2611 megabyte (about 2.5 GB) per customer from 904 MB on YoY basis. But the average revenue from the data services per customer declined by 22.7 per cent during the period.

"Mobile market remains turbulent in the current quarter as well, due to disruptive pricing by a new operator," the statement said.

Raghunath Mandava, MD and CEO, Africa, said, "Airtel Africa organic revenue growth for the quarter was 1.5 per cent year on year...New KYC norms impacted customer additions and consequently revenue growth in the quarter."

Airtel said Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, CEO, Rashed Fahad Al-Noaimi has joined as an additional director on the company's board.

Ahead of the results, the company's shares ended 1.76 per cent higher to close at Rs 427.6 on BSE.

Photograph: Shailesh Andrade/Reuters

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