India's second largest telecom operator Bharti Airtel on Tuesday reported 37.5 per cent year-on-year fall in consolidated net profit to Rs 1,341 crore for September 2023 quarter, weighed down by one-time exceptional charge.
Bharti Airtel -- which competes in the market with Reliance Jio as also Vodafone Idea -- saw its Q2FY24 total revenue climb 7.3 per cent year-on-year to Rs 37,044 crore "backed by strong and consistent performance in India operations".
Net income (after exceptional items) at about Rs 1,341 crore, was 37.5 per cent lower than the year-ago period. Net income (before exceptional items) stood at nearly Rs 2,960 crore.
"After accounting for loss of Rs 16,190 million towards exceptional items (net of tax and non-controlling interests) ...the resultant net income for the quarter ended September 30, 2023 came in at Rs 13,407 million, compared to a profit of Rs 21,452 million in the corresponding quarter last year and profit of Rs 16,125 million in the previous quarter," Bharti Airtel said in its quarterly report on Q2 earnings.
India business posted quarterly revenues of Rs 26,995 crore, which was up 10.9 per cent year-on-year. Mobile services India revenues rose 11 per cent year-on-year, led by strong 4G/5G customer additions and increase in ARPU, the telco said.
Airtel Business revenue was up 9.5 per cent YoY, backed by synergies from connectivity solutions.
Mobile ARPU (Average Revenue Per User) increased to Rs 203 in Q2’24 against Rs 190 in Q2’23, buoyed by "sustained focus on acquiring high value customers and improved realisations".
"We continue to deliver industry leading ARPU along with growing average data usage per data customer at 21.7 GBs/month," the company said in a release.
Mobile data consumption was up 19.6 per cent on-year with consumption per customer pegged at 21.7 GB per month.
"This has been yet another quarter of solid revenue growth and improved margins. Our India revenue continues to gain momentum and grew sequentially by 2.4 per cent. Our consolidated revenue, however, was impacted by the devaluation of the Nigerian Naira," managing director Gopal Vittal said.
The company recorded 7.7 million 4G/5G net subscribers addition and exited the quarter with an "industry-leading ARPU of 203", he added.
"Our postpaid and homes businesses continued their strong growth trajectory as we added the highest ever net adds in both these segments in any single quarter. Our performance is underpinned by a simple and consistent strategy of focusing on quality customers and delivering the best experience to them in a seamless digital way," Vittal further said.
According to Airtel, the postpaid segment saw highest ever net adds of 1 million in Q2’24 thereby reaching a customer base of 43.9 million (including IoT).
"We continue to garner strong market share of 4G/5G customers and added 27.2 million 4G/5G data customers to our network over last year, an increase of 12.9 per cent year-on-year," it said.
Airtel said homes business maintains its rapid growth trajectory and delivered a revenue growth of 23.3 per cent year-on-year, result of the company’s strategy to harness the growing demand of high-speed and reliable broadband in India.
Explaining the one-time charge, Airtel said on October 16, 2023, the Supreme Court pronounced a judgement on tax treatment of adjusted revenue linked Variable Licence Fee (VLF) payable to the telecom department since July 1999 and held that it is capital in nature and not revenue expenditure for the purpose of computation of taxable income.
While the decision does not per se alter the total amount of VLF allowed as deduction over the licence period, it creates a timing difference wherein later years would have a higher deduction.
"This has resulted in an additional tax provision of Rs 2,263 million primarily due to change in effective tax rate on account of adoption of new tax regime. The interest charge of Rs 13,500 million on the above matter has been presented as an exceptional item," Airtel said in its quarterly report.
Additionally, exceptional item includes a charge of Rs 220.3 crore on account of re-assessment of regulatory levies. "The tax credit on above re-assessment amounting to Rs 554 million is included under the tax expense / (credit). The net share of loss allocated to non-controlling interests on the above exceptional items is Rs 1,221 million," Airtel said.
Recently, its larger rival Reliance Jio Infocomm reported an almost 12 per cent year-on-year rise in standalone net profit to Rs 5,058 crore for the September 2023 quarter. Its revenue from operations rose 9.8 per cent to Rs 24,750 crore.
Troubled telco Vodafone Idea, on the other hand, reported a widening of its consolidated net loss at Rs 8,737.9 crore for the second quarter ended September 30, against a net loss of Rs 7,595.5 crore a year ago.
Its consolidated revenue from operations was almost flat at Rs 10,716.3 crore during the quarter against Rs 10,655.5 crore in the September 2022 quarter.