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Bharti Airtel was up 2.5% to Rs 538 on the BSE in intra-day trade after the company has signed an agreement with the Department of Telecom (DoT) and the Universal Service Obligation Fund (USOF) to provide mobile services to over 2,100 unconnected villages in the Northeast. In past three trading sessions, the stock has outperformed the market by gaining 11% from Rs 484 on December 6, as compared to 2.5% rise in the S&P BSE Sensex. The stock is trading 5% below its 52-week high price of Rs 565 touched on November 3, in intra-day trade. Last week, India’s largest telecom operator said it has partnered Intex to offer a low cost bundled 4G smartphone at an "effective price" of Rs 1,649 in a bid to counter JioPhone. Two other smartphones - Aqua A4 and Aqua S3 - will also be available at effective prices of Rs 1,999 and Rs 4,379, respectively as part of the partnership. Analysts at IIFL Institutional Equities maintain ‘buy’ rating on the stock with 12-month target price of Rs 628 per share. In Bharti’s Africa Analyst Day, management said that implementation of its five-pronged strategy with focus on distribution, network, subscribers, cost control, and people has resulted in around 1200bps Ebitda (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization) margin expansion in the past eight quarters.
Uptick in commodity cycle also helped. “Nigeria has seen stable competition and Etisalat’s exit may result in market consolidation. Bharti is making measured investments in its three weak markets. The long-term story in Africa remains positive, considering low tele-density, favourable demographics, abundant spectrum, and upside potential from data and mobile money,” the brokerage firm said in company update. At 10:41 AM; the stock was trading 1% higher at Rs 529 on the BSE, against 0.44% rise the S&P BSE Sensex. A combined 4.87 million shares changed hands on the counter on the NSE and BSE so far.