Higher operational efficiency and lower finance costs helped the jump to its highest quarterly profit since September 2010. Data contributed 16.2 per cent of India mobile revenue this quarter, up from 14.5 per cent in the September one and 10.6 per cent a year before.
It had a net profit of Rs 610 crore in the quarter ended December 2013, and Rs 1,383 crore in the September 2014 quarter.
The consolidated revenue was Rs 23,217 crore for the December quarter, 5.8 per cent more from the same period a year before.
The African operations, across 17 countries, continue to post losses, which increased to $136 million from $124 mn in the September quarter and from $94 mn in the previous year's December quarter, due to foreign exchange losses and higher capital expenditure.
The results, which came after market hours on Wednesday, were ahead of Bloomberg estimates on the profit front, while the top line was a shade lower than expectations.
The Street was expecting revenues of Rs 23,503 crore and net profit of Rs 1,353.6 crore.
The consolidated earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation (Ebitda) were Rs 7,786 crore, up 9.6 per cent year-on-year. The Ebitda margin expanded 120 basis points year-on-year to 33.5 per cent, but was lower by 20 basis points sequentially.
From mobile data services, consolidated revenue grew 61.9 per cent to Rs 2,872 crore. This head contributed 85 per cent of incremental revenue. At Rs 2,114 crore, this was a growth of 74.3 per cent over a year in India, on the back of increase in usage per customer by 38.3 per cent and increase in the data customer base by 32.4 per cent, the company said.
On the data side, the realisation per megabyte was 27.36 paisa for the December quarter, up three per cent from the previous quarter. But it declined 10 per cent compared with the December quarter the previous year.
Gopal Vittal, managing director, India & South Asia, said: "Revenue growth in India has continued to accelerate. We remain focused on driving top line through stepped-up customer acquisitions, with continued focus on churn, ensuring pricing stability and path-breaking innovations in mobile data."
A Mumbai-based analyst said the revenues from the data segment had started flowing, and with the increased use of low-cost smartphones, the number would go up substantially in the coming quarters.
The revenues from India grew 13 per cent to Rs 16,256 crore in the quarter. In Africa, revenues declined 5.5 per cent to Rs 6,827 crore. "Africa revenues grew by 3.9 per cent y-o-y in local currency terms but were down 5.3 per cent due to appreciation of the dollar," the company said.
Data revenues were $116 mn, with growth of 34.9 per cent y-o-y, led by increase in data customer base by 38.1 per cent and higher usage per customer by 22.6 per cent. These data revenues contribute to 10.5 per cent of overall Africa revenues in the quarter against 7.4 per cent in the corresponding quarter of FY14.
Total minutes on the network grew by two per cent quarter on quarter to 314,257 mn minutes. In India, the minutes on mobile services were up one per cent to 267, 485 mn minutes. In Africa, it grew by five per cent to 30,361 mn minutes from the September quarter.
Average revenue per user from India grew two per cent to Rs 202 from the previous quarter. About 22.6 per cent of mobile revenues came from non-voice services in the third quarter, compared to 20.2 per cent in the previous year.
The customer base was 313 million across 20 countries at the end of the quarter.
The net debt at the end of the quarter was Rs 66,839 crore
"We have maintained our focus on growing the customer base and top line in a cost-efficient manner. Significant depreciation in most African currencies, especially the Nigerian naira, has, however, depressed the reported results in dollar terms," said Christian de Faria, its Africa MD.
Bharti Airtel shares were down by 1.1 per cent on Wednesday, closing at Rs 367.85 on the BSE exchange.