Telenor Group posted a modest 1.6 per cent growth in second quarter organic revenue, to NOK26.8 billion ($4.3 billion), but was still able to revise upwards its full-year EBITDA guidance as mobile operations in Norway, Sweden, Bangladesh and Pakistan each delivered solid results.
“On the back of strong performance so far this year and our estimates for the remainder of 2014, we now expect an EBITDA margin above last year while our revenue outlook remains at low single digit organic growth,” said Jon Fredrik Baksaas (pictured), Telenor CEO.
EBITDA margin was 35.1 per cent for the first half of the year, eclipsing last year’s 34.5 per cent.
Telenor also had a strong showing in India and Malaysia, although Denmark and Thailand remain “challenging”.
Underlying mobile service revenue for the group, driven by data usage, was up 4 per cent.
In Norway, which accounts for around a quarter of group turnover, Q2 sales were up 6 per cent, to NOK6.5 billion.
The increase was helped by a mobile ARPU hike from NOK280 (Q2 2013) to NOK304 as customers consumed more data.
Refreshingly, Telenor gives median mobile data usage figures in Norway (which avoids distortions that average figures can sometimes produce if there’s a small minority gobbling up vast quantities of gigabytes).
Median data usage was 232MB in Q2, nearly double from last year’s Q2 (123MB).
In Sweden, although Q2 revenues were down 1 per cent year-on-year, to NOK2.84 billion, there was a 6 per cent growth in underlying mobile revenue growth (and a 2.5 percentage point increase in EBITDA margin.)
Revenues in Demark slumped a worrying 12 per cent, to NOK1.17 billion, as operations there undergo a transformation programme.
Bangladesh and Pakistan each delivered strong top-line performances for the quarter, up 10 per cent and six per cent respectively.
Telenor’s operations in India attracted two million new mobile subscribers, helping organic revenues grow 46 per cent to a shade over NOK1 billion.
Stiff pricing regulation and political uncertainty in Thailand, however, weighed heavily on results. Telenor’s sales there plummeted 11 per cent to just over NOK4 billion.
“While [group] results are strong, the high investments in modern infrastructure and changes in customer expectations demand continued efficiency improvements, as well as strong efforts for building capabilities for the future,” added Baksaas.
Telenor’s net income fell from NOK3.25 million to NOK2.32 billion after one-time costs from associated companies.