Shares of Bharti Airtel Ltd fell 3.3% on Tuesday after the company deferred its September quarter results as it was trying to determine the liability arising out of Supreme Court verdict on license fee dues.
Incidentally, the company released operating highlights for the September quarter late on Tuesday. However unprecedented, investors would do well to focus on the numbers, because from the looks of it the troubled India mobile services business is not only stabilizing but also showing signs of recovery.
Not surprisingly, Bharti Airtel’s stock was up 2.2% in early deals on Wednesday.
The company’s customer base and revenue from mobile services expanded 0.8-0.9% from June quarter. At least two large domestic brokers had forecast a sequential fall in revenues. Encouragingly, net additions have seen a notable improvement and monthly churn in customers eased considerably.
Average revenues per user dropped slightly--down 1%--and voice minutes on the company’s network fell 2.8%. But given the seasonal weakness in the fiscal second quarter it is understandable.
The company did not provide other metrics such as operating profit and net earnings. But the fact that customer base and revenue are on the mend will bring comfort to investors. “Barring a cost shocker in India wireless, we believe Ebitda print should be quite decent and ahead of expectations. We continue to like what we see," analysts at Kotak Institutional Equities said in a note. Ebitda is earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization.
Subdued voice volumes aside, the company did decently well on the data business. Data subscriber base expanded 3.5%. More importantly, the better yielding 4G customers grew 8.3%. Total data usage on the company’s network grew 15.2%.
The performance will please investors, strengthening the Street’s view that Airtel’s relatively better financial position and 4G network execution is helping it withstand market changes better. How well it will deliver on earnings will be known only when it releases the full quarterly results.