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Bharti Airtel Q4 profit plunges 78% YoY to Rs 83 crore; ARPU falls 27% to Rs 116

NEW DELHI: Telecom giant Bharti Airtel on Tuesday reported a 77.79 per cent fall in consolidated net profit at Rs 82.90 crore for the March quarter. The telco had posted a profit of Rs 373.40 crore in the corresponding quarter last year and Rs 305.80 crore in the December quarter.

The company blamed “artificially suppressed pricing” and reduction in international termination rates for the fall in bottomline.

Still, the profit in the March quarter came as a surprise as brokerages had predicted a consolidated net loss of up to Rs 380 crore. On a quarterly basis, consolidated net profit slipped 73 per cent.

Revenue slipped 10.48 per cent year-on-year to Rs 19,634.30 crore during the quarter under review. It had posted consolidated revenue of Rs 21,934.60 crore in the same quarter last year.

On a standalone basis, net loss stood at Rs 760.20 crore in Q4FY18 over a net loss of Rs 14,176.20 crore in Q4FY17. The firm had posted a standalone net profit of Rs 64.30 crore in the December quarter.

India ARPU (average revenue per user) for voice and data combined –- a key operational indicator –- also 26.60 per cent on year-on-year basis to Rs 116 during the quarter under review. ARPU had stood at Rs 158 in Q4FY17. ARPU plunged 6 per cent on a quarterly basis.

The board has also recommended a final dividend of Rs 2.50 per equity share for the financial year 2017-18.

Gopal Vittal, MD and CEO, India & South Asia, said: “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. Airtel continued to consolidate its leadership position this quarter.”

Bharti Airtels consolidated net debt increased to Rs 95,228.5 crore compared with Rs 91,713.9 crore as of December 31, 2017. The net debt-ebitda ratio (LTM) as of March 31, 2018 came in at 3.23 times compared with 3.01 times as on December 31, 2017. The net debt-equity ratio was at 1.37 times against 1.28 times on a QoQ basis.

“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 by Rs 123.5 crore and EBITDA by Rs 86.10 crore in the current quarter with negligible impact on EBITDA margins,” Airtel said in a release.

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