Bharti Airtel on Monday was able to beat analysts estimates by posting a surprise consolidated net profit of Rs 107.2 crore, during the January-March quarter, up 24.36 per cent compared to the preceding quarter, on the back of a one-time gain of Rs 2,022 crore.
Before this exceptional gain, the company posted a net loss of around Rs 1,200 crore, wider than Rs 1,041 crore, (before exceptional gain) in the preceding quarter.
For the last more than four quarters, Bharti has been posting a consolidated net profit on the back of exceptional gains.
Bloomberg consensus estimates had pegged the company’s consolidated net loss at Rs 966 crore during the quarter.
Revenues during the quarter grew 1.83 per cent on a sequential basis to Rs 20,602 crore, which was slightly below expectations. Ebitda at Rs 6,631 crore was up 5.14 per cent compared to the preceding quarter and above estimates, while margin was 32.2 per cent against 30.7 per cent in the preceding quarter, again above estimates.
The India mobile services revenue were up 4.35 per cent sequentially at Rs 10,632.3 crore.
Incumbent operators like Bharti Airtel have been facing competitive pressure from Reliance Jio for last several quarters and have been trying to bring about measures to make up for the loss accruing to them by providing below cost tariffs. In one such measure, in October 2018, Bharti Airtel decided to weed out those customers from its network who do not recharge every month for a minimum Rs 35. The most striking aspect about this measure was that during the December quarter the company lost 48 million users and now trails Reliance Jio in terms of total subscribers.
Though the company did not disclose the subscriber numbers during the end of March quarter, analysts estimate that it must be lower than 284 million it reported at the end of December quarter. Bharti did not disclose its average revenue per user (ARPU)during the quarter but analysts estimate that it would certainly be higher than Rs 104 it announced in the preceding quarter. Roughly, it could be around Rs 120 as the company had announced an exit ARPU of Rs 118 at the end of the December quarter.
In the January-March period, Bharti’s competitor Reliance Jio posted disappointing numbers on almost all fronts by missing analysts estimates. Vodafone Idea is yet to announce its earnings for the quarter. —FE