Bharti Net Beats Estimates on India Growth After Tower Sale

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- Bharti Airtel Ltd. first-quarter profit beat analyst estimates after India’s largest mobile-phone carrier boosted data usage at home and sold wireless towers in Africa.

Net income rose 40 percent to 15.5 billion rupees ($243 million) in the three months through June helped by a one-time gain of 14.3 billion rupees, New Delhi-based Bharti said in a statement. That compares with the 13.6 billion-rupee median of 23 analysts’ estimates compiled by Bloomberg.

The world’s third-largest wireless carrier by subscribers sold phone towers in Africa for $1.3 billion to help reduce debt. In India, its largest market, the company is racing to roll out high-speed mobile Internet services to tap booming data use before billionaire Mukesh Ambani starts a competing network by the year end.

“India revenues are very strong; the minutes volume growth is up, data is up,” said Naveen Kulkarni, an analyst at PhillipCapital (India) Pvt. in Mumbai. “They’ve obviously been able to deliver on multiple parameters.”

Revenue in India and South Asia rose 9.4 percent to 177.3 billion rupees in the quarter from a year earlier. Time spent by customers on the company’s network in the region climbed 7.4 percent, while data average revenue per user jumped 30 percent to 181 rupees.

Sales Beat

Group sales at Bharti increased 3 percent to 236.7 billion rupees in the three months ended June 30. That compares with the 233 billion-rupee median of 25 analysts’ estimates.

Bharti fell 1.4 percent to 413.25 rupees in Mumbai trading on Tuesday, before the earnings announcement. The stock has climbed 17 percent this year, compared with the S&P BSE Sensex index’s 2.1 percent gain.

Idea Cellular Ltd., India’s second-largest publicly traded wireless operator, last month posted earnings that beat analysts’ estimates. Profit for the quarter was 9.3 billion rupees, surpassing the 9.06 billion-rupee estimate.

Bharti last month said it was in exclusive talks to sell its units in Burkina Faso, Chad, Republic of Congo and Sierra Leone to Orange SA.

“The year has begun on a healthy note, with underlying revenue growth accelerating” in India, Gopal Vittal, chief executive officer at Bharti’s India and South Asia business, said in the statement. “Our capex programme is mostly directed at increasing 3G/4G coverage,” he said, referring to the carrier’s third-generation and fourth-generation services.

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