New Delhi: Bharti Airtel is expected to report a slight improvement in its average revenue per user (ARPU) for the third consecutive quarter after the company rolled out minimum recharge plans for users to stay on its network at a time when it battles cheap tariffs from rival Reliance Jio.

Airtel will announce its earnings for the June quarter today. Reliance Jio posted a profit of 891 crore while Vodafone Idea posted net loss of 4,873.9 crore in the June quarter.

“Indian wireless revenues (for Bharti Airtel) are expected to grow 1.7% quarter-on-quarter to 10,810 crore," ICICI Securities said in a report dated 8 July.

The brokerage expects Airtel’s Indian wireless business to witness muted net subscriber addition of 1.1 million given the weakness in wireless broadband subscriber addition. ICICI Securities expects Airtel to post a net loss of 1,009 crore.

The operator’s topline has continued to remain under pressure after Jio’s entry in September 2016 brought down tariffs to rock-bottom.

Motilal Oswal expects Airtel’s consolidated revenue to rise 3% year-on-year at 20,600 crore and out of that India wireless business to record revenue of 10,750 crore.

Average revenue per user for Bharti Airtel has been improving as it sheds low paying users from its network. Arpu is the total revenue of the company divided by the number of subscribers on the network.

Arpu was 104 in the December quarter, an improvement from 100 from the preceding September quarter, the first such increase after nine straight quarters of decline. However, the rise in Arpu is on account of the company modifying the customer base definition in order to represent only the customers who transact and generate revenue.

Airtel had posted a surprise profit of 107.2 crore in the three months ended 31 March because of a one-time gain of 2,022.1 crore and a tight control on sales and marketing expenses.

While the company posted a profit at the consolidated level, Bharti Airtel’s India wireless business had posted a loss of 1,377.8 crore, almost triple the 482.2 crore loss it posted in the year-ago period. However, the March quarter numbers were better than the 1,903.2 crore loss the company reported in the preceding December quarter.

Investors will also watch out for management’s commentary on competitive intensity in the sector.

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