Underperform rating to Idea Cellular shares: Jefferies

Nov 04 2013, 11:41 IST
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SummaryVolumes below expectations, but realisations improve

Idea Cellular Ltd reported an increase in realisations; however, volumes were much weaker than expected—seasonality is getting pronounced every year. We revise our estimates and PT (price target), but would not chase the stock as: (i) regulatory flip-flop continues, (ii) competitive disruption with the entry of a stronger player in early 2014, and (iii) additional overhang of stake sale.

In-line revenues: Consolidated revenues at R63.2bn were down 3.3% quarter-on-quarter. While realisations (ARPM—average revenue per minute) were up by 2.3% q-o-q, seasonality played spoilsport and minutes of usage (MoU) were down 7.5%. Volume growth was down 5.8% q-o-q. The management suggested that the improvement in ARPM was the tail effect of the withdrawal of freebies and discounted minutes since early Q1, they will watch the impact carefully before taking a call for the future.

Margins sustain: Ebitda ticked down by 60bps q-o-q as (negative) operating leverage kicked in. Roaming and access charges (down 160bps) and licence & spectrum charges provided the tailwinds while network operational costs (up 150bps q-o-q) and personnel expenses (up 80bps q-o-q) were the significant headwinds. As volume growth comes back, we expect margins to recover.

Capex lower than expected: Reported capex was R8.8bn, down 10% y-o-y. However, given the INR depreciation, our calculations suggest capex of R11.6bn, up 30% y-o-y. Guidance for FY14 remains at R35bn. Our belief is that capex for the company (and industry) will continue to remain high as it moves to newer areas for subscriber penetration and adds infrastructure in existing areas in order to improve service quality. Data & 3G penetration would entail additional capex, going forward.

Revise estimates & target: Incorporating Q2 results, our revenue, Ebitda, and EPS estimates are largely unchanged (-1% to +2%) over FY14-15e. Our new PT is R145. The approved QIP (qualified institutional placement) of R30bn and preferential issue of R7.5bn to the Axiata Group remains an overhang.

Other key highlights

* Data is now 8.7% of revenues (up 330 bps y-o-y) while non-data is 7.4% of revenues (down 280 bps y-o-y). Therefore, VAS (value added services) revenues are up 50 bps y-o-y.

n The non-data VAS revenues continue to remain under pressure due to: (i) Trai’s new regulation of double confirmation, and (ii) the emerging threat from free messenger and chat software.

* Data subscribers saw a healthy addition of 2.7m in the quarter (up 9% q-o-q). Data volume was up 27% q-o-q while ARPU (average revenue per

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