Domestic mobile business strained still

| Updated on: May 05, 2011
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Key financial ratios still healthy

Even though Bharti Airtel's numbers failed to meet market expectations, the company's African operations continues to see stability in key metrics as do its domestic telemedia (landline and broadband) and DTH businesses. Bharti's domestic mobile business though continues to see strain in its key operational parameters.

In the March quarter, the company saw its revenues increase by 3.2 per cent sequentially, while net profits expanded by 7.5 per cent.

In Africa, the company has seen its average revenue per user (ARPU) remain stable at $7.2, much higher than the $4.3 it manages in India. This despite the fact that over 99 per cent of Bharti's subscriber base in Africa is on pre-paid connections. Operating margins have risen continuously for the last three quarters and now stands at a healthy 26.4 per cent. With the launch of 3G rollout expected in key markets there, ARPUs may start to improve from these levels. On an overall basis, Bharti has indicated a $3 billion capex plan for FY12 covering both domestic and international operations. The net debt of the company stood at $13.4 billion as of March 2011. But the net-debt to equity ratio, at 1.2 and net-debt to operating profits at 2.8 offer some cushion from increase in debt and interest outgo. The company has operating free cash flow of Rs 5,704 crore.

Bharti's Indian mobile operations have seen a decline in ARPU of 2.5 per cent sequentially to Rs 194 and a similar reduction in realisations per minute, which now stand at 43.1 paisa. Though the quantum of reduction has reduced in recent quarters, the downward trajectory very much continues to be in force as far as these metrics are concerned.

But the company's telemedia business has seen margin expansion to healthy levels (45.2 percent currently) and a marginal increase in revenues as well. That the company has managed this when broadband tariffs are falling continuously augurs well for scalability in future. Bharti's DTH operations too seem to be robust as the ‘others' segment (of which the DTH business is a key part) has seen an 18.7 per cent increase in revenues sequentially and has more than halved its losses.

Bharti's tower business continues to see increase in tenancy, though rentals continue to dip marginally, with the result that revenues have remained flat in this segment during the quarter.

Published on May 05, 2011

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