(PTI) Bharti Airtel on Monday posted an 89 per cent year-on-year rise in consolidated net profit for September quarter to ₹2,145 crore, as higher revenue per user, more data consumption, and expanded 4G base boosted realisations.
Airtel's total revenue rose nearly 22 per cent year-on-year to ₹34,527 crore during the just-ended quarter.
The company attributed this to "strong and consistent performance delivery across the portfolio and crossing 500 million customers globally".
The Q2 net profit trailed street expectations, though the revenue numbers came in higher than market estimate.
The Average Revenue Per User or ARPU (a key metrics for telcos) stood at ₹190 for the just-ended quarter as compared to ₹153 in Q2 FY22 helped by focus on quality customers, feature phone to smartphone upgradation and data monetisation, Airtel said.
The company, which is rolling out 5G services, exuded confidence about delivering a "best experience in India".
Airtel CEO Gopal Vittal, however, expressed concern about the "low return on capital employed that our business delivers due to pricing that is the lowest in the world".
"Given the large investments required to drive digital adoption in India we believe there is a need for tariff correction," Vittal said in a statement on the Q2 results.
Airtel's top honcho said he believes that 5G technology has the potential of bringing tremendous innovation into India.
Market watchers said that spectrum usage charges savings, ARPU rise, increase in mobile data consumption, and strong showing in the home segment aided Airtel's Q2 report card.
The net income (after exceptional items) for Q2 FY23 came in at ₹2,145 crore, about 89.1 per cent higher than the year ago period. Seen sequentially, the net profit was 33.49 per cent higher than June quarter.
The net income (before exceptional items) for Q2 FY23 was ₹2,052 crore, the company said in a statement.
For September quarter, the India revenue stood at ₹24,333 crore, up 22.3 per cent year-on-year. Mobile revenues grew by 24.8 per cent on year on account of improved realisation as well as strong 4G customer additions during the year.
Airtel said 4G data customers were up by 17.8 million year-on-year and five million sequentially, and formed 64 per cent of overall mobile customer base.
"ARPU continues to be the best in industry, average data usage per data customer at 20.3 GBs/month and voice usage per customer at 1,082 minutes/month," the company said in a statement.
Airtel said the homes business segment continued its strong momentum and delivered a revenue growth of 38.9 per cent on year, an outcome of continued acceleration on the back of growing need for reliable and consistent broadband in India.
Airtel had announced its 5G services roll out earlier this month, with launch in eight cities.
"Eventually we plan to cover all of urban and key rural areas of India by March 2024. Airtel 5G Plus promises to offer massive speeds, best voice experience, will work on all 5G smart phones and be kinder to the environment," Airtel statement added.
The company said it paid 4 years of 2022 spectrum dues worth ₹8,312 crore.
According to the company, this upfront payment coupled with ongoing moratorium on spectrum dues and Adjusted Gross Revenue (AGR) will free up future cash flows and allow the company to dedicate resources to drive 5G roll out.
"We have delivered yet another quarter with competitive revenue growth and improved margins," Vittal said, adding that consolidated revenue grew sequentially by 5.3 per cent and margin expanded to 51.3 per cent.
"The consistency of our execution is driven by the strength and resilience of our portfolio. Our B2B and homes business continued their strong growth momentum while Mobile ARPU expanded to ₹190 on the back of premiumisation and deep customer understanding," Vittal said.
The September quarter ARPU was higher than ₹183 logged in June quarter.
On October 21, India's largest telecom operator Reliance Jio Infocomm had posted a 28 per cent year-on-year jump in its net profit for the September quarter to ₹4,518 crore. The company had said it is geared up to complete the 5G roll-out by December 2023. Jio's ARPU during the quarter improved by 23.5 per cent on a year-on-year basis to ₹177.2 per subscriber per month.
The Q2 scorecard of telcos comes amid large-scale network deployments across the country for 5G services, the much-talked-about next-generation technology that promises to ring in a new era of turbocharged speeds, lag-free connectivity, and new-age applications in India, the world's second-biggest smartphone market after China.
But the 5G experience, so far, has been rather patchy and confined to select locations. The telecom operators have blamed the delay in smartphone companies pushing out required software patches over the air, for this, while handset manufacturers rue lack of proper network.
Meanwhile, Airtel in its Q2 filing has mentioned that on October 27, 2022, Indus Towers, a joint venture of the company (JVC), in its audited results for September quarter reported that a large customer (of the JV) accounting for substantial part of net sales for the period ended September 30, 2022 constituted a significant part of trade receivables outstanding as on the said date.
"During the quarter ended June 30, 2022, the said customer has informed the JV company that a funding plan is under finalisation with its lenders and has proposed a payment plan to the JVC to pay part of the monthly billing till December 2022 and 100 per cent of the amounts billed from January 2023. As regards the dues outstanding as on December 31, 2022, it has proposed to pay these dues between January 2023 and July 2023," Airtel mentioned in the notes to the audited consolidated financial results.
Post discussions, during the current quarter, the JV company has agreed to accept the part payment till December 2022.
"Further, in accordance with the policy of the JVC for making doubtful debt provision in respect of overdue recoverable from its customers, including the said customer, the JVC has recorded a provision of ₹17,709 million for the current quarter," it said.