Bharti Airtel on Thursday slipped into the red as the telecom company posted its first quarterly net loss in over a decade at Rs 2,866 crore, battered mainly by stiff competition from Reliance Jio, besides depreciation of 3G network equipment and operating costs on network refarming.
However, the company’s average revenue per user (ARPU) was the industry’s best at Rs 129 for the June quarter on a subscriber base of 320 million.
The company was able to retain its top spot in the market in terms of revenue as its top line was up 2.8 per cent at Rs 15,345 crore. Vodafone Idea posted revenue of Rs 11,269.9 crore in the June quarter and Reliance Jio’s revenue was Rs 11,679 crore.
Airtel’s India revenue is an integrated number comprising wireless, landline, and broadband services.
During the first quarter of the current financial year, Airtel’s mobile revenue saw year-on-year (YoY) growth of 3.7 per cent. Mobile 4G data customers increased by 63.3 per cent to 95.2 million from 58.3 million in the corresponding quarter last year.
“The first quarter of the financial year has begun with a healthy and equitable growth across all our lines of businesses. Headline pricing remained stable, albeit at low levels,” said Gopal Vittal, managing director and chief executive officer, India & South Asia, Bharti Airtel.
Airtel had logged a net profit of Rs 97 crore in the same period of the previous year. “We have re-farmed spectrum from 3G networks to 4G across both the 900 as well as 2,100 bands and begun the process of shutting down 3G networks in India,” Vittal said.
The overall revenue of the Sunil Mittal-led firm, including non-mobile businesses, rose 4.7 per cent to Rs 20,738 crore during the first quarter ended June 30 as against Rs 19,799 crore in the year-ago period.
For the June quarter, Airtel’s India ARPU, a key performance metric of mobile phone operators, stood at Rs 129 against Rs 123 in the March quarter. Vodafone Idea’s ARPU during the same period was Rs 108, while that of Reliance Jio was Rs 122.
“Exceptional hit during the quarter ended June 30 was Rs 1,445.4 crore (net of tax), mainly due to a charge of Rs 142.7 crore towards accelerated depreciation of 3G network equipment/operating costs on network refarming and upgradation programme,” Bharti Airtel said in a statement.
While Reliance Jio posted a profit of Rs 891 crore, Vodafone Idea posted a net loss of Rs 4,873.9 crore in the June quarter.
Consolidated earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation, and amortisation (Ebitda) at Rs 8,493 crore increased 24.2 per cent year on year.
Consolidated Ebitda margin increased by 6.4 per cent to 41 per cent in the quarter as compared to 34.5 per cent in the corresponding quarter last year mainly due to the adoption of new accounting standards in India.
The consolidated net loss after exceptional items for the quarter stands at Rs 2,866 crore. “Airtel’s net profit has been narrowing ever since Reliance Jio entered the market and in this quarter loss was almost inevitable,” said an analyst.
Airtel had posted a surprise profit of Rs 107.2 crore in the quarter ended March because of a one-time gain of Rs 2,022.1 crore.