Bharti Airtel misses Q3 profit estimate as higher costs weigh

February 05, 2024 09:11 pm | Updated 09:31 pm IST - Bengaluru

India's Bharti Airtel reported third-quarter profit below estimates on Monday, as flat tariffs and higher costs outweighed growth in subscribers.

The telecom operator reported a consolidated net profit of ₹24.42 billion ($294 million) for the quarter ended Dec. 31, compared to analysts' estimate of ₹28.69 billion as per LSEG data.

Airtel and rival Reliance Jio Infocomm are racing to capture a bigger share of India's telecom market, with billions of dollars of investments to expand 4G and 5G services.

Jio's market share stands at 39.49% as of Nov. 30 and Airtel has a 32.91% share, while Vodafone Idea trails with 19.44%, according to the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India.

Airtel said its 4G/5G subscriber base rose to 244.9 million users during the quarter, up 13% from year ago and 3.1% a quarter ago.

Average revenue per user (ARPU), a key financial metric where Airtel leads its rivals by a wide margin, rose to ₹208 from ₹193 a year ago and ₹203 in the last quarter.

The ARPU was in the range of analysts' estimate of ₹205 to ₹208.

The company, however, did not raise tariffs - a trend it has followed since 2021, but which analysts expect will end in mid-2024 after India's general elections.

Its revenue from operations rose 5.9% to ₹379 billion, below analysts' estimate of ₹381.30 billion.

Expenses rose 4.23% to ₹180.85 billion, as the company poured more money into spectrum charges, marketing and network operations. Its tax expenses also rose nearly 15% to ₹12.32 billion.

Airtel also reported a one-time charge of ₹1.30 billion, which it attributed to a foreign exchange net loss due to currency devaluation in its group subsidiaries.

Last month, Jio broke a four-quarter streak of slowing profit growth, helped by subscriber additions.

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