Merged telecom operator Vodafone Idea reduced losses to Rs 4,881.9 crore compared to Rs 5,004 crore on a sequential basis for the fourth quarter ended in March 31, 2019.
Revenues grew from Rs 11,764 crore to Rs 11,775 crore during the same period, missing Street estimates marginally.
Last quarter’s figures are not comparable with those of March 2018 quarter, as the merger of Idea Cellular and Vodafone India came into effect on August 31, 2018.
Analysts expected revenues to grow 1.5 per cent and loss reduction to Rs 4,200 crore was expected. The average revenue per user (Arpu) was in line with Street estimates, growing 16.3 per cent to Rs 104 in the quarter following benefits from monthly recharge offers.
The Q3 Arpu stood at Rs 89. The monthly offers resulted in reduction of the subscriber base by 53.2 million to 334.1 million.
The Q4 average daily revenue grew by 2.3 per cent quarter-on-quarter or QoQ, following 11 consecutive quarters of decline, said the firm.
Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) stood at Rs 1,785.3 crore for the quarter with Ebitda margin rising 15.2 per cent compared to 9.7 in the previous quarter.
Total operating expenses for the quarter fell sequentially due to the realisation of merger synergies.
Underlying operating expenses of Rs 7,480 crore (excluding licence fees, spectrum usage charges and roaming & access charges) in Q4 declined by Rs 1,280 crore compared to Q1 after adjusting for certain one-offs of Rs 200 crore, inflation driven cost increases and incremental network rollout.
“We are pleased with the rapid progress we have made to deliver on our stated strategy. The initiatives we have taken since the merger are yielding positive results and we are well on track to deliver our synergy targets two years early,” said Balesh Sharma, chief executive officer (CEO) of Vodafone Idea.
The company said in a statement that network integration is moving at a fast pace, with a unified network experience in the 10 service areas of West Bengal, Andhra Pradesh, Haryana, Madhya Pradesh, Himachal Pradesh, Assam, North East, Jammu and Kashmir, Bihar and Punjab. After integration, the capacity in these circles has increased by 34 per cent QoQ, leading to higher download speeds.
“As a result of our focus on accelerating network integration, we have removed surplus equipment on 24,000 sites out of the total 67,000 co-located sites. Additionally, we have also exited 9,900 low utilisation sites. Both initiatives have yielded significant cost savings for the company,” said Vodafone Idea in a statement.
Bharti Airtel had also performed well on the ARPU front in the fourth quarter as the figure improved 20 per cent sequentially while rival Reliance Jio’s ARPU declined 3 per cent during the same period. Airtel’s ARPU in Q3 had fallen 15.50 per cent year-on-year (YoY) to Rs 104 from Rs 123 in Q3FY18. Analysts had estimated that Q4 will lead the way for tariff stabilisation in the telecom industry.
Airtel also recorded a 4.1 per cent jump in domestic wireless revenues, partly by weaning off low-revenue customers. It continued to add 4G customers, thereby narrowing the gap with Reliance Jio in terms of revenues from this segment.