Bharti Airtel Revenues Increase, Profits Down By 37%

Bharti Airtel Revenues Increase, Profits Down By 37%
The Indian mobile operator company is carrying large debt in a mobile market that is increasingly competitive, and continues to have negative growth in profits.
By John Ribeiro
News Aug 8th 2012

India's largest mobile operator, Bharti Airtel, reported that its net profit for the quarter ended June 30 was down 37 percent to 762 crore Rupees (US$135 million), even as its revenue and number of customers grew in India, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and 17 countries in Africa.

Telecom revenue in India, its largest market, has been depressed due to "hyper-competition and recent regulatory and tax developments," including a hike in tax levies, the company said in a statement. Falling average revenue per user (ARPU) and high debt have also dragged down Airtel's profit.

The company had 194 million subscribers in India, Bangladesh and Sri Lanka at the end of the quarter, of which about 187 million were in India.

Subscriber additions in India no longer translate into large revenue, and can in fact be a drag on profit as operators expand into rural markets, and also address the trend for users to have more than one connection, said Kamlesh Bhatia, research director at Gartner.

The uptake for data services in India has also been far lower than was expected. Operators like Airtel have rolled out 3G services, but these haven't taken off, Bhatia said. Airtel has also rolled out 4G services in two Indian cities, Bangalore and Kolkata, but it may be too early to evaluate consumer interest in the TD-LTE service, he added.

Airtel's ARPU in India was down by 3 percent year on year, to 185 rupees per month.

The company said revenue grew in the quarter by 14 percent, to 19,350 crore Rupees, while its mobile customer base grew to 250 million, up by 13 per cent from the same period a year earlier. Revenue from operations in Africa grew 31.5 percent, but the company continues to suffer a loss in that business.

Net loss in Africa in the quarter ballooned to 670 crore Rupees, compared to a loss of 300 crore Rupees in the same quarter last year, even as the number of customers increased to 56 million from 46 million a year earlier.