Bharti Q3 net slides as finance costs increase

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SummaryThe country’s largest telecom operator Bharti Airtel on Friday missed analysts’ estimates while registering a 60.61% sequential decline in net profit for the October-December quarter at R284 crore.

the data front, it is heartening to see strong (quarter-on-quarter) growth and across geographies,” Mittal said in a statement.

During the quarter, Bharti’s net finance cost rose 69% on a yearly basis to Rs 1,331 crore. Forex losses stood at Rs 248 crore against a gain of Rs 13 crore in the preceding quarter. Income tax expenses rose 20% to Rs 667 crore. Explaining the increase in financing cost, Kohli said, “The net financing cost has primarily increased because the dollar cost incurred in Africa when translated into rupees has gone up and secondly, because of the hike in the borrowing rate.”

The good news on the operational side was the 4% quarter-on-quarter increase in Arpu at Rs 185 against the preceding quarter’s Rs 177. The monthly churn rate also came down 5.9% against the previous quarter’s 8.5%.

The minutes of usage also increased to 435 against preceding quarter’s 417, signifying that traffic is returning to the network. This maybe because increasingly, mobile firms are deactivating inactive customers. The other positive trend is the growing trend of data customer base and increasing Arpus here. The company’s total data customer base during the period increased to 41,480 against the preceding quarter’s 40,600. Of this the 3G customer base was at 5,187, compared with 4,014 a quarter earlier. The data Arpu at Rs 47 was 9% up on a quarterly basis. Recently, the company also adjusted its tariffs upwards in a manner that its realisations improve.

In the near term, the company expects stability with an upward bias on the tariff front because the overcrowding in the market has diminished with a host of cancellation of licences by the Supreme Court last year. The fresh auction that took place in November did see some players re-enter the market but only in select circles. With the monthly gross addition of subscribers coming down, there’s not much pressure on the operators to lower tariffs.

Analyst maintain that while such a move and trends are good, the real drag on the company in the coming quarters would be the finance cost due to the debt it took to acquire the African operations of Zain. Further, the African operations still continue to post net losses.

On the domestic front, regulatory costs continue to be a risk factor since the company has to pay a one-time charge for spectrum beyond 4.4 MHz, which is around Rs 5,200 crore. The company

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