Bharti Q4 net up 21%, splits stock

Written by Corporate Bureau | New Delhi | Updated: May 1 2009, 04:52am hrs
Bharti Airtel Ltd, the countrys largest telecom operator, beat market expectations and posted a 21% rise in its fourth quarter net profit at Rs 2,239 crore. The company, the worlds third largest in-country mobile operator, also reported a 26% rise in its full year net profit at Rs 8,470 crore.

For the first time, Bharti Airtel declared a dividend of 20% for its shareholders. To give a boost to retail participation in its stock, the board approved a stock-split, to divide its Rs 10 shares into two shares of Rs 5 each. The companys shares ended up 3.25% at Rs 749.30 on the Bombay Stock Exchange.

The top line figures for the fourth quarter rose 26% year on year to Rs 9,825 crore. The annual revenue increased by 37% to over Rs 36,000 crore.

Chairman & managing director Sunil Mittal said, The India growth story continues and we expect a revival of the economy in the second half of this fiscal year. Commenting upon the maiden dividend, Akhil Gupta, group deputy CEO, said there was sufficient free cash flow even after accounting for the capex plans. This was the second successive quarter the company reported free cash flows.

The companys Ebidta for the quarter increased by 23% to Rs 4,000 crore and for the year, by 33% to Rs 15,000 crore.

The company plans to spend around $2-2.5 billion (Rs 10,000 crore to Rs 12,500 crore) for building infrastructure, while the tower business would see a capex of $1billion between Bharti Infratel and Indus Towers.

Commenting upon the companys funds for the 3G bids, Gupta said that there were sufficient funds and if needed the company would not have problems raising money to fund the auction, as it was a low debt enterprise. Its debt equity ratio is less than one. Telecom analyst Sherian Irani said, as there were few investment avenues shaping up in a year of economic downturn, the stock split and dividend would please the shareholders.

The company added 83.79 lakh subscribers in the fourth quarter, taking its subscriber base to 9.66 crore. For the year, its subscriber base rose by 50%.

With a 3.7% increase in its revenue market share, Bharti Airtels revenue market share increased to 32%. However, the companys mobile market share declined by 0.7% to 24% during the quarter. But its market share of wireless subscribers grew marginally by 0.3% to 24% during the year.

On the loss of its quarterly subscribers market share, Manoj Kohli, CEO, Bharti Airtel, said, This was essentially because of an increase in competition and this isnt a concern for us as numbers should be looked into only with the revenue component.