Reliance Communications Ltd (RCom) reported another set of sub-par results, with revenues and operating profit for the quarter ended 30 September declining by more than 4% sequentially in its India operations. The company doesn’t report results for its wireless business separately anymore, and the India business is therefore the best proxy for it.
Earlier, Bharti Airtel Ltd and Idea Cellular Ltd had reported sequential revenue declines of around 2%, largely due to the seasonality factor. RCom said in a press statement that results for the quarter “were impacted by an increase in competitive intensity, migration of CDMA customers to 4G LTE and seasonality factors".
It’s understandable that the migration attempt will result in some disruption. Average revenue per user rose 5% sequentially, suggesting a larger proportion of low-value customers have been lost. But overall, given the continued sluggishness, there’s hardly anything for investors to get excited about.
RCom shares have more than halved in the current year, and initial enthusiasm about the company’s strategic deals with Reliance Jio Infocomm Ltd as well as its deleveraging plans has waned.
All of the debt-reduction plans the company has talked about are still a work-in-progress and some of them are at fairly preliminary stages. And while the merger of its wireless business with Aircel Ltd may come through, the success of the deal depends largely on how successful the two are in raising a large amount of equity capital in the combined entity. And the current environment, where telecom stocks have fallen at a fast pace, is hardly conducive for raising equity.
There is also lack of clarity about RCom’s arrangements with Reliance Jio for use of the latter’s 4G network, and how beneficial the deal will be. A look at how the company’s shares have moved this year suggests investors are not very hopeful about RCom’s prospects.
Reliance Group companies have sued HT Media Ltd, Mint’s publisher, and nine others in the Bombay high court over a 2 October 2014 front-page story that they have disputed. HT Media is contesting the case.