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Airtel Digital TV numbers improve as parent company numbers fall again

Airtel Digital TV numbers improve as parent company numbers fall again

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BENGALURU: The Sunil Mittal-led Indian telecom major with operations in 16 countries, Bharti Airtel Ltd (Airtel) reported a year on year (y-o-y) drop in numbers for the quarter ended 30 September 2018 (Q2 2019, period or quarter under review) as compared to the corresponding year ago quarter (Q2 2018). At the same time, its Digital TV services segment which contributes just about 9 percent or so to the overall numbers, had a 9 percent and 13 percent y-o-y increase in operating revenues and operating profit (EBITDA) during the period under review.  The results for the quarter under review of both – Airtel overall and its Digital TV segment are subdued versions of the previous quarter. The company’s board has declared an interim dividend of Rs 2.5 per share, which is a complete pass through of dividend received from its subsidiary

Airtel reported a y-o-y increase in its overall as well Airtel Digital TV subscriber base along with an increase in mobile data traffic. However, the competitive environment has ensured y-o-y subduction of India mobile services and home services segment financials. Hence, the improved numbers from Airtel’s Digital TV services, its B2B – Airtel business services, its tower infrastructure services and its African operations numbers are reasons for cheer for the telecom behemoth.

Overall, Airtel’s total revenues declined 6.2 percent y-o-y in Q2 2019 to Rs 20,422 crore from Rs 21,777 crore, while EBITDA declined 20.7 percent y-o-y to Rs 6,343 crore from Rs 8,004 crore. Net income declined to almost a third (down 65.4 percent) y-o-y to Rs 119 crore from Rs 343 crore. The company had a negative operating cash flow of Rs 1,341 crore in Q2 2019 as compared to a positive Rs 520 crore in Q2 2018.

Airtel Digital TV

As mentioned above, for its Digital TV segment, Airtel reported 9 percent y-o-y increase in operating revenues for Q2 2019 at Rs 1,024.2 crore as compared to Rs 936.9 crore. Airtel Digital TV Services EBITDA grew 13 percent y-o-y in the period under review to Rs 396 crore from Rs 351.7 crore. The company’s subscriber base increased by 1.33 lakh (0.133 millon, 0.0133 crore) in Q2 2019 to 147.79 lakh (14.779 million, 1.4779 crore) from 146.46 lakh (14.646 million, 1.4646 crore) in the immediate trailing quarter. In Q2 2018, the company had reported 135.21 lakh (13.521 million, 1.3521 crore) Digital TV subscribers.

ARPU in the quarter under review increased by Rs 3 to Rs 232 as compared to Rs 229 in the immediate trailing quarter (Q4 2018) but was Re 1 lower than the Rs 233 in the corresponding year ago quarter. The US dollar has been rising with respect to the Indian rupee, hence in US$ terms, ARPU declined to US$ 3.3 in Q2 2019 from US$ 3.4 in Q1 2019 and declined 8.8 percent form the US$ 3.6 in Q2 2018. Churn increased to 1.3 percent in Q2 2019 as compared to 0.7 percent in Q1 2019, but was lower than the 1.4 percent in Q2 2018.

Company speak

Airtel MD and CEO of India and South Asia operations Gopal Vittal said, “Led by our focus on quality customers through simplified pricing and content partnerships, ARPU decline has moderated in this quarter. We remain focused on driving quality base growth with value adding propositions for our customers. We also remain committed to investing in enhanced capacities and have  deployed 27K+ broadband sites during the quarter, enabling a 239 per cent YoY growth in mobile data volumes.”

Airtel MD and CEO of Africa operations Raghunath Mandava said, “Airtel Africa’s Gross Revenue grew by 11 per cent on a Y-o-Y basis. Data traffic grew by 53 percent, Voice minutes increased by 36 percent and Airtel Money throughput grew by 31 percent on a Y-o-Y basis. Consequently, EBITDA margin has expanded by ~4 percent Y-o-Y and stood at 37.1 percent for the quarter. We have stepped up our capex spends during the quarter to build a formidable LTE network. This positions us well to expand our profitable growth journey by enhancing customer experience with best in class network and products. This quarter also marks the first time where we are disclosing our region and product wise performance as it provides a more holistic view of our operations across the continent.”

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