Telecom operator Bharti Airtel Thursday reported a 72 per cent drop in consolidated net income for the three months ended December 2018 at about Rs 86 crore, amid market turbulence triggered by cut-throat competition in India business.
Change in accounting structure with respect to Airtel Payments Bank brought an exceptional gain of Rs 1,017 crore for Bharti Airtel and bolstered the company's financials.
"After accounting for a gain of Rs 1,017 crore towards exceptional items (net of tax), the resultant net income for the quarter ended December 31, 2018, came in at Rs 86.2 crore," Airtel said in a statement.
Its net income stood at Rs 306 crore in the same period of the previous year.
While rival Reliance Jio posted a 22 per cent rise in profit at Rs 831 crore on a year-on-year basis in the home turf, Airtel's losses from India operations (before exceptional items) stood at Rs 971.9 crore, compared to a net income of Rs 373.5 crore in the year-ago period. Among telecom service business arm, only Airtel Africa recorded an increase in the profit.
Bharti Airtel along with Vodafone Idea have approached the government in India for relief in absence of margin due to low tariff being offered by Jio in market and need for higher investments in the network.
The profit of Airtel Africa, before the exceptional item, increased by 40 per cent to Rs 551.8 crore during the reported quarter, compared to Rs 393.9 crore in the year-ago period.
Bharti Airtel's total revenue for the December 2018 quarter stood at Rs 20,519 crore, just one per cent higher than the Rs 20,319 crore in the corresponding period of the previous year.
Bharti Airtel India revenue in the reported quarter declined by 2.3 per cent year on year to Rs 14,768 crore on an underlying basis. Airtel mobile business in India also witnessed a year on year de-growth of 4 per cent on an underlying basis primarily on account of the sustained pricing pressure in India Mobile segment.
Airtel Africa revenues grew by 11.2 per cent to Rs 5,903.5 crore from Rs 5,284.1 crore in October-December 2017 quarter on account of strong growth in data and Airtel money transaction value.
Airtel global customer base grew by 2.4 per cent to 40.4 crore during the reported quarter from 39.4 crore in October-December 2017 on account of net additions in Africa and South Asia. The company recorded a 2 per cent decline in its customer base in India at 28.42 crore during the same period.
Bharti Airtel in India, however, recorded around three-fold growth in mobile data traffic at 3,217 billion megabytes (MB) in the quarter as compared to 1,106 billion MB in the corresponding quarter last year. Mobile 4G data customers of Airtel in India also increased by 112 per cent to 7.71 crore from 3.64 crore in the corresponding quarter last year.
"Our simplified product portfolio and premium content partnerships have played out well during the quarter, translating into one of our highest ever 4G customers additions of 11 million plus...We have deployed 24,000 broadband sites during the quarter and remain committed to invest in capacities ahead of the demand curve and provide a superior customer experience," said Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO (India and South Asia), Bharti Airtel.
"Effective this quarter, we have modified our customer base measurement to represent only transacting and revenue generating customers," he added.
Consolidated net debt for the company has decreased by Rs 6,836.8 crore to Rs 1.06 lakh crore as compared to Rs 1.13 lakh crore for the previous quarter.
Bharti Airtel counters Thursday gained 1.25 per cent to close at Rs 307.15 apiece on the BSE.