India's second-largest telecom operator Bharti Airtel on Tuesday posted more than twofold year-on-year jump in its consolidated net profit for the March quarter to Rs 2,008 crore, buoyed by a lift in average revenue per user and an exceptional gain.
The telco said its Q4 scorecard was backed by strong performance delivery across the portfolio and its CEO Gopal Vittal, in a statement, exuded optimism about opportunities in the coming years and Airtel being "well-poised" as a company.
Airtel, which competes in the market with Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea, as well as state-owned BSNL/MTNL, promised to maintain razor sharp focus on financial flexibility, optimising the capital structure and finance cost.
Airtel's revenue from operations rose 22.3 per cent to Rs 31,500 cr during Q4 FY22, compared to the year-ago period.
The net profit before exceptional items for Q4'22 came in at Rs 1,860 crore, while exceptional gain boosted the net profit numbers to Rs 2,008 crore.
As a result, profit after tax was over 2.5 times higher for the January-March quarter, compared to Rs 759 crore recorded in the year ago period.
"The net exceptional gain of Rs 9,062 million during the quarter ended March 31, 2022 comprises of gain on account of sale of telecom tower assets of Rs 7,593 million, gain on account of settlement with a strategic vendor of Rs 9,923 million, charges on account of provision of levies of Rs 3,216 million, charge on account of impairment of property, plant and equipment of Rs 3,810 million and charge on account of prepaying bonds of Rs 1,428 million," the company explained in its quarterly report.
Airtel's Average Revenue Per User or ARPU, a key metrics for all telcos, came in at Rs 178 for the quarter, up from Rs 145 in Q4'21 "led by healthy flow through of tariff revision and strong 4G customer additions during the year", the company said.
Sequentially too, the APRU was notably higher than Rs 163 logged in December quarter.
For the full year FY22, the Sunil Mittal-led telco reported a net profit of Rs 4,255 crore, against a loss of Rs 15,084 crore in the previous fiscal (FY21), marking a turnaround of performance in a market that has seen announcements of significant reforms.
Bharti Airtel posted a revenue of Rs 116,547 crore for FY22, up from Rs 100,616 crore recorded in the previous financial year.
This translated into a topline growth of about 16 per cent for full year.
Gopal Vittal, CEO, India and South Asia, Bharti Airtel, exuded optimism about the opportunities in the coming years, and said the company is "well-poised" for three reasons.
"First, our ability to execute consistently to a simple strategy of winning with quality customers and delivering the best experience to them.
"Second, our future proofed business model with massive investments in both infrastructure and digital capabilities," he said.
He also highlighted the company's financial prudence backed by its strong governance focus, as a strong point.
India revenues for Q4'22 at Rs 22,500 crore, increased by 22.7 per cent over same period previous year.
Mobile revenues grew by 25.1 per cent year on year, it said.
"We continue to gain strong share of the 4G customers in the market and surpassed +200 million mark towards the end of Q4'22," Airtel affirmed.
The company has added 21.5 million 4G customers to its network over last year, an increase by 12 per cent year on year.
"ARPU continues to be the best in industry, average data usage per data customer at 18.8 GBs/month and voice usage per customer at 1,083 mins/month," it stressed.
As per the company, homes business segment continued its strong momentum with revenue growth of 45.8 per cent year on year and customer net additions of about 323,000 during the quarter to reach to a total base of 4.5 million.
Airtel Business accelerated its momentum with a 12.9 per cent YoY growth, driven by rapidly increasing demand for data, connectivity related solutions and CPaaS (Communication Platform as a Service), the statement said.
"Our Homes and enterprise business continue to exhibit very strong growth momentum, reflecting the resilience of our overall portfolio.
"Our strong balance sheet and cash flows have enabled us to further repay some of our spectrum liabilities ahead of schedule and improve our leverage," Vittal observed.
The company saw improvement on other scores, including the margin front.
Consolidated EBITDA shot up by 27.1 per cent year on year to Rs 15,998 crore in Q4'22, resulting in improvement in EBITDA margin to 50.8 per cent in Q4'22 (48.9 per cent in Q4'21) "exhibiting our continued focus on operational efficiencies".
"Incremental EBITDA margins across businesses remained healthy, with India mobile services EBITDA improving from 47.5 per cent in Q4'21 to 50.6 per cent in Q4'22," Airtel said.
The net Debt-EBITDA ratio (annualised) and including the impact of leases as on March 31, 2022 is at 2.51 times as compared to 2.95 times as on March 31, 2021.
Consolidated net debt excluding lease obligations for the company stands at 1,23,544 crore as on March 31, 2022, compared to Rs 1,15,512.4 crore as on March 31, 2021.
"We paid additional Rs 8,815 crore towards part prepayment of deferred liabilities for spectrum acquired in 2015," Airtel said, adding that the company continues to focus on financial flexibility and optimising the capital structure and finance cost.
The Board has also recommended a dividend, for the financial year 2021-22.
"The Board has considered and recommended a dividend of Rs 3 per fully paid-up equity share of face value Rs 5 each and Rs 0.75 per partly paid-up equity share of face value Rs 5 each (paid-up Rs 1.25 per share) for the financial year 2021-22.
"The dividend is in proportion to the amount paid-up on each equity share of face value Rs 5 each," the company said in a regulatory filing.
The shares of Airtel ended the day at Rs 707.5 apiece on BSE, 2.13 per cent higher than the previous close.
The results came after the market hours.
Larger rival and India's biggest telecom operator Reliance Jio earlier this month had posted about a 24 per cent jump in standalone net profit to Rs 4,173 crore for the fourth quarter ended March 2022, amid better realisation per user aided by tariff hike, better subscriber mix and FTTH services ramp-up.
Jio's standalone revenue from operations increased by about 20.4 per cent year-on-year to Rs 20,901 crore.
Vodafone Idea had reported narrowing of its consolidated losses to Rs 6,563.1 crore for the fourth quarter ended March compared to same period of the previous year, while its realisation per user or ARPU improved sharply on a sequential basis aided by November tariff hikes.