Safaricom Full-Year Profit Surges as Non-Data Revenue Jumps

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Safaricom Ltd., Kenya’s largest company by market value, said full-year profit surged 38 percent as revenue growth from data services continued to outpace sales from voice-only business.

Net income jumped to 31.9 billion shillings ($336 million) in the 12 months through March from 23 billion shillings a year earlier, Chief Financial Officer John Tombleson told reporters on Thursday in Nairobi, Kenya’s capital. That’s above the 29.7 billion shillings median estimate of eight analysts surveyed by Bloomberg. Sales grew 13 percent to 163.4 billion shillings, helped by a 27 percent increase in non-voice revenue.

“We have seen very strong non-voice revenue growth in the last year,” Chief Executive Officer Bob Collymore said. “We continue to strive to deliver the best service to our customers and for that we have been rewarded with strong commercial and financial performance.”

Mobile phone companies in Kenya have been investing in Internet-enabled services as customers increasingly turn to smartphones and tablet computers as a means of communication and mobile banking. Safaricom, 40 percent owned by Newbury, England-based Vodafone Group Plc, had 67 percent of mobile-phone subscriptions in East Africa’s biggest economy at the end of last year and 84 percent of call minutes, according to a report by the Communications Authority of Kenya.

The shares declined 2.3 percent to 17.15 shillings at the close in Nairobi, paring the year’s increase to 22 percent. That followed six days of gains. The company is valued at 687 billion shillings.

Mobile Money

Safaricom said the number of active users of its M-Pesa service -- a way of making payments through a mobile-phone -- gained 14 percent to 13.9 million, about 60 percent of the 23.3 million total customer base. The product contributed 20 percent of sales. Mobile data revenue increased by 59 percent.

The company will pay a dividend of 0.64 shilling per share, a 36 percent increase on last year.

Chairman Nicholas Nganga announced that the company’s board has extended Collymore’s contract, which the CEO said would be for two years starting in August.

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