America Movil, the largest telecoms group in Latin America, blamed a higher tax bill and rising service costs for its 39.3 per cent year-on-year slump in Q3 net income, to MXN10.1 billion ($746 million), yet mobile data remains a bright spot with stable growth – “over the last several quarters” – of around 15 per cent.
Operating profit nonetheless fell 5.5 per cent, year-on-year, to MXN37.6 billion. America Movil said higher depreciation and amortisation charges caused much of the decline.
Group consolidated results, from 1 July, include financials from Telekom Austria Group (in which the Latin American company now has a majority stake). It helps explain why group turnover jumped 13.7 per cent in the quarter, year-on-year, to MXN221 billion. On an adjusted pro forma basis, however, group sales were up a more modest 4 per cent.
The number of wireless subscribers stood at 286.9 million, inflated by the addition of 19.9 million from Telekom Austria Group. On a pro forma basis, the wireless subscriber base grew by a slender 0.5 per cent, quarter-on-quarter. A dampener on subscriber growth was 1.8 million net disconnections across Mexico, Chile and the Central America-Caribbean block.
More encouragingly, the group’s postpaid base increased 5.6 per cent, year-on-year, pumped up by the addition of 709,000 new contract subscribers. Of that number, 409,000 were signed up in Brazil and 128,000 in Mexico.
Brazil now ranks almost level with Mexico, America Movil’s home market, in terms of wireless subscriber group share (around 24.3 per cent).
In Mexico, where America Movil is in the process of selling off network assets to reduce market share and placate the regulator, Q3 service revenue fell 5.5 per cent, to MXN34.3 billion. A dwindling prepaid subscriber base hasn’t helped (a loss of over 2.5 million compared with end-September 2013), nor has the introduction (13 August) of a zero interconnection rate for Telcel, America Movil’s Mexican mobile operation. The new ruling is part of the regulator’s push to dilute what it sees as Telcel’s unfair market dominance.
America Movil fared better in Brazil where wireless service revenues were up 3.4 per cent, to BRL3.06 billion ($1.2 billion), buoyed by postpaid growth.
At a group level, America Movil enjoyed strong growth too in Pay TV and broadband subscriptions during the quarter. Broadband accesses numbered 22.2 million by the end of September (up 8.5 per cent) and Pay TV units numbered 21.4 million (12.2 per cent growth).