Bharti Airtel’s net income in Q3 surged 170 per cent to INR13.8 billion ($229 million) as growth in data revenue helped deliver the highest quarterly profit in more than three years.
Its overall revenue grew 7 per cent to INR228.5 billion ($3.77 billion), with its core Indian market seeing growth of 12.3 per cent – accounting for 71 per cent of the group’s revenue during the quarter.
Mobile revenue, representing more than two-thirds of total revenue, increased 66.7 per cent in Q3 compared to the same period a year ago.
India led the growth, with the easing of a long-running price war meaning that the price of voice actually rose by 2.4 per cent. Data revenue increased 74 per cent.
Airtel’s data customer base in India rose 43 per cent to 40.1 million (19 per cent of total connections) and usage per customer increased 31 per cent to 563MB. Data revenue accounted for 14.5 per cent of mobile revenue in India (up from 9.4 per cent a year ago). Data ARPU increased 16.7 per cent to INR150.3 while data traffic expanded 95 per cent.
Revenue in Africa increased 6.4 per cent in local current terms, but after accounting for the appreciation of the US dollar, was up just 1.9 per cent. Data revenue grew 57 per cent thanks to a 50.4 per cent increase in the region’s data customer base and a 24.5 per cent jump in usage per customer. Mobile data now represents 10 per cent of Africa’s overall revenue compared to 6.6 per cent a year ago.
The company said active Airtel Money users increased to 5.3 million during the quarter and transactions on the platform reached $3.3 billion. Christian de Faria, MD and CEO of Airtel Africa, said more than five million customers carry out an average of over 1.4 million daily transactions.
The operator’s total customer base, across 20 countries and including mobile and other services, increased 8.4 per cent to 303.7 million from a year ago. India, now with almost 212 million mobile connections, continued to outpace South Asia and Africa, growing 9.5 per cent. Africa grew 7.5 per cent and has 71.4 million connections.
Capex expanded 74 per cent to INR37.2 billion, and almost 60 per cent was spent in India. It added almost 11,500 3G base stations in India over the past year, with 3G sites accounting for 27 per cent of its 141,000 base stations.
EBITDA was up 12.1 per cent to INR77 billion and its EBITDA margin rose from 32.2 per cent in Q3 2013 to 33.7 per cent. Its India EBITDA margin was up 3.2 percentage points to 38.3 per cent.