Bharti Airtel has reported a net profit of Rs 82.9 crore in the last quarter of the financial year 2017-18 (Q4FY18), recording a massive fall of nearly 77% as compared to the same quarter last year (Q4FY17) when it had posted a profit of Rs 373.40 crore. This is in line with the trend that has been seen in the past year. Last quarter (Q3FY18) also saw a plunge in profit by 39% to Rs 305.8 crore.

Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO, India & South Asia for Airtel spoke of the causes, “The telecom industry continues to witness below cost, artificially suppressed pricing. Industry revenues were further adversely impacted this quarter due to the reduction in International termination rates.”

Notably, the results are better than what industry experts had been predicting. Most estimates claimed that the company would record a loss this quarter—Bank of America-Merrill Lynch has estimated the loss at Rs 58.5 crore, while Kotak Securities at Rs 377 crore.

Revenue: Consolidated revenues fell by 5.4% year-on-year to Rs 19,634 crore. While revenues from Africa were up by 10.7% YoY, it could not compensate for the fall in India—of 7.5% YoY to Rs 14,796 crore in Q4FY18. Airtel said that this was primarily impacted by a cellular revenue drop of 13.5%.

Performance indicators

  • Consolidated EBITDA (Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) for the quarter was Rs 7,034 crore against the Rs 7,993 crore same quarter last year, recording a fall of 12%.
  • Airtel said that the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) has prescribed changes in inter-connect usage charges (IUC) for international incoming traffic effective February 01, 2018 which has led to drop in gross revenue and EBITDA
  • ARPU (average revenue per user) in India for voice and data combined was Rs 116 as compared to the Rs 158 in Q4FY17.
  • Airtel said that TRAI reduced the domestic mobile termination charge (MTC) from Rs 0.14 per min to Rs 0.06 per min and the international MTC rate from Rs 0.53 per min to 0.30 per min, which have led to further decline in industry ARPU.

Consumer base

  • The total consumer base for Airtel across markets and services added up to 413.8 million, a quarterly growth of 5% from Q3FY18. The number stood at 394.2 million in December 2017 and 372.3 million in March 2017.
  • Indian mobile customers grew by 4.9% from the last quarter to 304.1 million. Part of the reason for this could be the closure of services of other telecom companies.
  • Airtel also completed the acquisition Tigo Rwanda, adding more than 3 million of its customers.
  • Mobile data traffic grew to 1,616 billion MBs in the quarter marking a growth of 505% YoY and 39.2% QoQ.
  • Consumption of data per user stood at 6,585 MB as compared to 5,349 MB in December 2017.
  • Airtel saw some increase in its tower network and optical fibre network in the quarter.