NEW DELHI: September quarter’s 22 per cent growth in sales for Bharti Airtel was its highest since June quarter of 2011. The sales numbers at Rs 25,785 crore was the highest ever for the telecom operator.

On the other hand, while Airtel managed to narrow losses on a yearly basis, it was the sixth quarter of straight losses for the company.

A surge in 4G data users, improving average revenue per user (ARPU), expansion in Ebitda margin, healthy show at Africa business and narrowing of quarterly losses were some of the key highlights of Bharti Airtel’s September quarter results. Here’s are the key takeaways from Bharti’s results:

Record sales
September quarter saw Bharti’s revenues rising 22 per cent to Rs 25,785 crore, which was its highest ever sales, data compiled with corporate database Capitaline suggested. Only once before this, in the June quarter of 2016, did Bharti Airtel clock revenues in excess of Rs 25,000 crore. In terms of growth, the 22 per cent rise was Bharti’s highest ever growth since June 2011’s 38.46 per cent growth.

Narrowing, but accumulating losses
Bharti’s losses for the quarter at Rs 763 crore were quite lower than last year’s Rs 23,405 crore. This was the sixth straight quarter when the company reported losses. The combined losses for the six quarters stands at Rs 47,437 crore.

4G customer additions
During the quarter, the company added 1.4 crore 4G customers to 15.27 crore. The number of 4G customer additions were up 48.1 per cent on a yearly basis.

Bharti said its data consumption for the quarter jumped 58 per cent YoY to 7,403 petabyte. An average Bharti’s subscriber was consuming 16 GB of data in the September quarter. Data tariff also increased to 77.3 PB per day compared with 48.9 PB/day in the corresponding quarter last year.

More than 10% of AGR dues paid
Airtel said it represented to DoT that it has already paid more than 10 per cent of the total dues as demanded by DoT and will ensure ongoing compliance with the Hon’ble Supreme Court’s orders.

It noted that telecom operators have to make payment in yearly installments commencing from April 1, 2021 up to March 31, 2031 payable by March 31 of every succeeding financial year, i.e. 10 yearly installments.

India ARPU, Ebit margin at multi quarter high

ARPU for Bharti Airtel has been improving sequentially for at least four quarters now. ARPU at Rs 162 for September quarter was higher than Rs 157 in June quarter, Rs 154 in March quarter, Rs 135 in December quarter and Rs 128 in the year-ago quarter.

In case of Ebit, at 17 per cent, the margin for September quarter beat June quarter’s 13.9 per cent, March quarter’s 13.7 per cent, December quarter’s 10.9 per cent and September quarter’s 9.4 per cent.

Net debt jumps further
Net debt for the quarter stood at Rs 1,37,841 crore, which was higher than June quarter’s Rs 1,16,540 crore, March quarter’s Rs 1,18,859 crore and December quarter’s Rs 1,14,919 crore. Net debt for Airtel stood at Rs 1,18,106 crore in the year-ago quarter.

Ghana exit
Airtel said that parties are in advance stages of discussions for conclusion of the commercial agreement for the transfer of AirtelTigo on a going concern basis to the government of Ghana. “Accordingly, Airtel is voluntarily taking an impairment charge of Rs 184.10 crore,” it said.

Analyst take

Keshav Lahoti of Angel Broking is bullish on Bharti Airtel, considering that industry dynamics are now looking favourable. This analyst expects Bharti to gain revenue market share going ahead. Given that the stock has corrected 30 per cent from its high, he sees valuation comfort.

On earnings, Lahoti said that mobile ARPU improved significantly by 26.5 per cent YoY to Rs 162 due to tariff hikes and increase in data usage.

“4G data customers stood at 15.3 crore, up by 1.4 crore for the quarter. India’s subscriber base grew by 4.9 per cent QoQ to 32.1 crore. India business delivered good growth across revenue, margins and customers. Overall, the company reported better numbers than Street expectations,” he said.

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