Led by 4G customer additions, Bharti Airtel’s consolidated net profit topped estimates and grew 49.7 per cent year-on-year (YoY) to Rs 3,006 crore in the fourth quarter of FY23. A net exceptional gain of Rs 413 crore boosted the overall result.
Its revenue witnessed a 14.3 per cent YoY rise and reached Rs 36,009 crore in Q4FY23.
Although the company beat estimates at the profit level, it missed top-line expectations. According to Bloomberg consensus estimate, Airtel was expected to report a net profit of Rs 2,881 crore and a revenue of Rs 36,743 crore in Q4FY23.
In the same quarter a year ago, Airtel posted a net profit of Rs 2,008 crore.
On a sequential and full-year basis, the consolidated net profit was 90 per cent and 96 per cent higher, respectively, driven by better margins.
The telco’s average revenue per user (ARPU) remained flat sequentially and grew 8.4 per cent on a YoY basis to Rs 193.
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At the operating level, the company registered 17.6 per cent YoY growth in profit to Rs 18,807 crore, while the operating margin widened by 2.9 percentage points to 26.1 per cent.
The company discontinued its minimum recharge plan (Rs 99) in two circles in December, and this was extended to seven other circles in January. Later the Rs 99 plan, which accounted for nearly 7-8 per cent of the company's revenue, was replaced with Rs 155 in all the 22 circles by March. Analysts expect to see the impact of price revision in the first quarter of next financial year.
Airtel continued to gain market share in the 4G segment and the company added 7.4 million 4G customers in the March quarter. Its total number of 4G customers now stands at over 224 million and they account for 67 per cent of its India customer base. The average data usage per customer per month remained flat sequentially at 20.3 GB but was 20.2 per cent higher on a YoY basis. Rival company Reliance Jio reported a 3 per cent gain in data consumption at 23.1 GB.
Airtel said it added 12,500 towers in Q4 to augment its coverage and took initiatives to improve network quality and customer experience. Capital expenditure for the March-end quarter was Rs 11,436 crore compared to Rs 9313 crore in the December-end quarter.
Airtel launched commercial 5G service last October and it now covers nearly 3,000 cities and towns across the country.
“This has been another strong quarter as we end the financial year having further strengthened our portfolio. Our consolidated revenue grew sequentially by 0.6 per cent, while the Ebitda margin expanded to 52.2 per cent despite there being two fewer days in the quarter,” said Airtel Managing Director Gopal Vittal.
“Our focus on acquiring quality customers resulted in 7.4 million new 4G customers, as we exit the quarter with an industry-leading ARPU of Rs 193. A simple strategy and our relentless focus on execution have ensured that we close the year with market share gains across all businesses. We are also pleased to see the increased velocity of our digital deliveries across all parts of our business. This has been due to our sustained focus on digital platforms and talent,” Vittal said.
“We continue to ramp up our 5G roll-out and expect to connect all major towns and key villages by the end of this year,” he added.