Bharti Airtel, on Thursday, reported a nearly 50 per cent drop in consolidated profit for the January-March period.

The company’s net profit fell to Rs.508.6 crore from Rs.1,005.9 crore in the year-ago period, a decline of 49.43 per cent, due to tax charge and higher net interest costs.

However, the company said it was optimistic about the future growth as pricing stability was returning to the sector.

“I am pleased to see that market corrections have started with improvements in the quality of customer acquisitions, and that pricing stability is returning to the sector in India,” Bharti Airtel Chairman Sunil Mittal said.

The company reported a net profit of Rs.2,275.7 crore for the whole of 2012-13, down 46.5 per cent from Rs.4,259.4 crore in 2011-12. Depreciation and amortisation costs for the year were higher by Rs.2,128 crore, resulting from continued expansion of networks. Revenues for the quarter under review were up 9.2 per cent at Rs.20,448.4 crore against Rs.18,729.4 crore in the year-ago period.

For 2012-13, revenues rose by 12.4 per cent to Rs.80,311.2 crore from Rs.71,451 crore. The board of directors has recommended a dividend of Re. 1 per share of Rs. 5 each for 2012-13.

“Over the last year or so, the data ecosystem in the country is growing well. Pricing stability is returning to the market place,” Bharti Airtel India Joint Managing Director and CEO Gopal Vittal said, adding that the real challenge was to grow revenues “because unless we grow revenues, our margins won't improve.” The company needed to improve the quality of its acquisitions, improve the realisation rate of voice and reduce discounts, he added.

“We have not tinkered with the base price at all, it stays steady and one of the things that we have done is to actually cut back on discounted and promotional minutes... going forward we are going to keep looking at opportunities to see where discounted minutes can be reduced,” Mr. Vittal added.

Bharti also said it agreed to buy the remaining 30 per cent stake in its Bangladesh unit from Warid Group for an undisclosed amount.

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