Telecom operator Bharti Airtel Monday reported a surprise 29 per cent surge in March quarter net profit as exceptional income gains and Africa business helped offset losses in India mobile services operations. The company -- whose profitability has been battered by intense price competition posed by richest Indian Mukesh Ambani's Reliance Jio -- earned a net profit of Rs 107.2 crore in January-March against Rs 82.9 crore it earned in the same period of the previous fiscal.
This is the first rise in profit after several quarters for the company. Revenue soared 6.2 per cent to Rs 20,602.2 crore for the three months ended March 31, 2019. The firm had an exceptional income gain of Rs 2,022.1 crore in the quarter, it said in a regulatory filing to stock exchanges.
The company's loss from India mobile services business more than doubled to Rs 1,377.8 crore in January-March when compared with Rs 482.2 crore loss in the same period of the previous fiscal year. This was in contrast to Africa mobile service business earning (profit before net finance costs, non-operating expenses, exceptional items and tax) improving to Rs 1,317.1 crore from Rs 1,128.8 crore in January-March 2018.
For the full 2018-19 financial year, net profit more than halved to Rs 409.5 crore. For the full year, its revenue at Rs 80,780.2 crore was 2.2 per cent lower than Rs 82,638.8 crore in the previous fiscal.
Jio's offering of lifetime free voice calls and dirt cheap data has forced rivals to slash rates, affecting profit margins. Since its launch, rivals have either merged or folded up, matching its high-speed 4G offering.
Airtel earnings underscore the challenge telecom players face to grow profitability in India despite the market's higher data and voice consumption.
Airtel neither issued the customary press statement detailing earnings statement and management commentary nor provided average revenue per user - a key metrics tracked by analysts.
Airtel shares ended at Rs 333.40 apiece on the BSE, up 0.69 per cent over the previous closing. The results were announced after the market hours.
Reliance Jio recently posted a 64.7 per cent jump in net profit to Rs 840 crore in March quarter of 2018-19. It had recorded a net profit of Rs 510 crore in the same quarter a year ago.
The operating revenue of Reliance Jio was up 55.8 per cent to Rs 11,106 crore during the reported quarter, compared to Rs 7,128 crore in the year-ago period.