Posts profit for fourth consecutive quarter, but growth of operating metrics slowing down.
Like the previous four quarters, Reliance Jio on Wednesday turned out a decent set of numbers by posting profit for the fourth consecutive quarter. During the July-September period, the company’s net profit, at Rs 681 crore, was up 11.3% sequentially.
Unlike the previous few quarters, this time Jio has been the first telco to have reported its earnings, with Bharti Airtel and Vodafone Idea still to come out with their numbers.
However, with user base rising, saturation seems to be setting in, leading to Jio’s rate of growth slowing on all operating metrics on a sequential basis.
Jio, which has been witnessing a decline in its average realisation per user due to tariff cuts, reported an Arpu of Rs 1,31.7 during the July-September period, down 2.08% compared with the preceding quarter. Still, it is is much higher than Bharti’s Q1 Arpu of Rs 105.
According to analysts, despite a declining Arpu on a sequential basis, Jio has been able to report higher revenue — Rs 9,240 crore, up 13.9% sequentially — is because it is still adding huge number of subscribers month-on-month, which is making up for its low cost tariffs. Just for perspective, if Bharti Airtel adds around 1.5-2 million users per month, Jio adds around close to 10 million. This means that Jio still has headroom to cut tariffs, withstand lower Arpus while reporting growth in profitability and revenue.
Analysts also maintain that though Jio has been posting impressive numbers, its accounting practises differ from that of the incumbent operators. For instance, Jio does not fully capitalise its assets and spectrum is amortised on a usage basis rather than the straight line method by other telecom operators.
This means Jio has determined the total data capacity of its network over the life of the spectrum allocation and the consumption of GBs per quarter will determine the quantum of depreciation and amortisation charge. The D&A cost under this would be lower, especially in the initial years compared to the straight line method.
During the quarter, Jio’s Ebitda stood at Rs 3,573 crore, up 13.5% from the preceding quarter, while margin declined 12 bps at 38.7%.
On other operating metrics, Jio continues to perform on expected lines but its rate of growth over the quarters is slowing. Its data traffic at 77,10,000 million Mbs is sure to be the highest in the industry though incumbents have not yet come out with their numbers. Compared with the preceding quarter, it saw an increase of 20.09%. Data usage per customer saw a growth of 3.77% at 11,000 MB per subscriber.
The only parameter where Jio ranks lower than Bharti is on total voice traffic, because its overall subscriber base is lower than the latter’s. Jio’s voice volume at 533,790 million minutes registered an increase of 18.96% compared with the preceding quarter.
Usage per customer at 761 minutes registered a growth of 2.3% sequentially.
Jio’s monthly churn remains the lowest in the industry at 0.66% per month.
Jio continued its strong subscriber growth trend with net addition of 37 million subscribers during the quarter as against 28.7 million in the preceding one. Its gross adds stood at 41.7 million and total subscriber base at 252.3 million.
“We, at Jio are glad with our progress towards our mission with more than 250 million subscribers on our network within 25 months of commencement of services. We have enabled our customers to adopt the digital life, with record consumption of data and use of digital services. Our next generation FTTH and enterprise services are now being made available to our customers to further enhance our value proposition to our customers,” Reliance chairman and managing director Mukesh Ambani said in a statement.