India’s largest telecom network operator, Bharti Airtel Ltd, reported a 30.8 percent fall in first-quarter net profit on Wednesday, blaming an adverse foreign exchange impact in Nigeria, although it beat analysts’ estimates.
Consolidated net profit fell to 14.62 billion rupees ($218 million) in the quarter ended June 30, from 21.13 billion rupees last year, the company said.
Analysts on average had expected a net profit of 11.59 billion rupees, according to Thomson Reuters data.
Bharti Airtel, headed by Indian billionaire Sunil Mittal, said total revenue rose 7.9 percent from a year earlier to a record 255.47 billion rupees, helped by new customers signing up for the company’s 3G and 4G data services.
During the quarter, the Nigerian naira depreciated by 42 percent, forcing the company to register an exceptional loss of 7.48 billion rupees as a result. Bharti derives about 7 percent of its consolidated EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation) from Nigeria, analysts estimate.
Restructuring in some other countries also hurt profits, the company said.
Mobile data revenue during the June quarter rose 35 percent to 35.25 billion rupees from a year ago, Bharti Airtel said. Average revenue per user (ARPU) of data rose 10-fold from a year earlier to 202 rupees during the quarter.
The proliferation of cheap smartphones, led by Chinese brands, has prompted more Indians to use their handsets to access the Internet and demand faster downloads. An Internet-based startup boom in the country has also seen increased adaptability on smartphones, bolstering demand for high-speed data.
Over 100 million smartphones were sold in India, the world’s second-biggest mobile phone market by customers, last year and that number is expected to grow by over a quarter this year.
Earlier in July Indian conglomerate Reliance Industries said it would launch its much-awaited fourth-generation (4G) wireless services commercially in the coming months, competing with Bharti Airtel, which ramped up coverage of its 4G services last year to 300 towns in anticipation.
4G services should make it much faster than 3G services to surf the web on mobile phones, tablets and laptops.
Credit: CNBC Africa