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Airtel profit in line with estimates

New Delhi, April 29: India’s top mobile phone carrier Bharti Airtel Ltd has reported a surge in quarterly profit in line with expectations as reduced competition in the world’s second-biggest mobile phone market helped to push call prices higher.

Consolidated net profit surged 89 per cent to Rs 962 crore in the fourth quarter of the last fiscal against Rs 509 crore a year ago.

The figure compared with analysts’ consensus estimate of Rs 973 crore.

However, fourth quarter revenues rose a mere 1.2 per cent compared with the previous quarter on the back of lower earnings from its African business.

Bharti Airtel’s African business has been a drag on the company, which has yet to turn a profit there four years after spending $9 billion to acquire mobile phone assets. Debt run up by the company for the fiscal year stood at Rs 60,542 crore.

Losses in its international business, which includes the African operation, more than doubled to Rs 1,218 crore before exceptional items.

Net profit during the fiscal went up 21.8 per cent to Rs 2,773 crore against Rs 2,276 crore in the year gone by, while revenues increased 11.5 per cent to Rs 85,746 crore.

Prospects for telecommunications companies, which had been hurt by fierce competition and a vicious price war, started improving last year following a court order that revoked the permits of several carriers.

After reporting declining quarterly profit for four years, Bharti Airtel posted a profit rise for the December quarter, helped by higher call prices and a surge in mobile data sales.

Voice services still account for close to 85 per cent of mobile revenues, but high-margin data services are growing much faster.

Bharti and its two closest rivals — the Vodafone Group Plc’s local unit and Idea Cellular — have become stronger in the past year and now account for about 70 per cent of the sector’s overall revenue.

 
 
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