Bharti Airtel on Wednesday posted a consolidated net profit of Rs 854 crore in the quarter ended December 2020 (Q3 of FY21), after six straight quarters of losses. However, its Indian operations, despite a substantial improvement in financial performance, are still in the red — its net income from Indian operations, without considering exceptional items, was negative Rs 9.6 crore, compared with a loss of Rs 682.5 crore in the previous quarter.
While its average revenue per user (ARPU) went up by 2.4 per cent from Rs 162 in Q2 to Rs 166 this quarter, it was lower than that of Reliance Jio, which saw 4 per cent growth in the same period. The two companies have been neck and neck on Ebitda (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation) margins. Bharti’s Ebitda as a percentage of revenue stood at 45.2 per cent and that of Jio was at 44.2 per cent.
Airtel’s revenues in India grew by 5.4 per cent from Rs 18,022 crore in Q2 to Rs 19,007 crore in Q3. Its rival Jio saw a 6 per cent increase in the same period.
The company announced it would be raising up to Rs 7,500 crore through a combination of instruments, which include secured and unsecured, listed and unlisted non-convertible debt securities, including debentures and bonds. These would be raised in one or more tranches. The company has a debt of Rs 1.49 trillion, which is three times its Ebitda. The consolidated profits, in line with analyst expectations, were boosted by healthy net subscriber additions, increase in higher paying 4G customers, and gains from one-time exceptional items like the deemed loss of control in its tower business (merged with Indus Towers and some others). Airtel declared its highest ever consolidated quarterly revenue of Rs 26,518 crore in Q3, up by over 24.2 per cent a year ago.
Though the results were declared after the market hours, the unanimous expectation that the company will be back in the black saw the company’s shares go up by 2.09 per cent, closing at Rs 611.90.
The company has had to make steep provisions, especially to pay for its AGR dues to the government as directed by the Supreme Court. The company’s Indian operations saw a healthy increase in net subscriber addition of 14. 2 million, nearly three times more than that of Jio. Not only that, its 4G subscriber base went up by over 13 million this reporting quarter to hit 165 million, a trend that will help the company increase revenues as well as well as push up its ARPU, aided by the fact that its tariffs are 7-20 per cent higher than Jio’s.
Airtel Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Gopal Vittal said: “Despite the unprecedented volatility that we have confronted through the year, we delivered another strong performance this quarter. This consistency in performance was across every part of our portfolio, as reflected in market share growth across all our business segments.”