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Idea Cellular Quarterly Profit Jumps 64 Per Cent

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India's third largest mobile services provider Idea Cellular posted nearly 64 per cent jump in its December quarter profit at Rs 767 crore, helped by an increase in the total subscriber base.
 
The Aditya Birla Group company had posted a post tax profit of Rs 467.73 crore at the consolidated level in the corresponding period last fiscal.
 
Revenues were up 21 per cent at Rs 8,017.47 crore, with the share of high margin data doubling to Rs 1,239 crore.
 
Idea Cellular Managing Director Himanshu Kapania said the growth in the number of the subscribers, along with an improvement in the margins, helped the company's bottom line.
 
There was a 3.6 percentage points increase in the pre-tax margin at 37.1 per cent for the reporting quarter, which was attributed largely to the new subscriber additions and higher data usage.
 
The average revenue per user (ARPU) increased by Rs 10 to Rs 179 during the quarter.
 
Idea serves 152 million subscribers overall, of which 34.2 million use mobile data services, he said.
 
Idea is about 20 percent owned by Malaysia's Axiata.
 
The company has been adding new users at a faster rate than rivals Bharti Airtel and Vodafone India, with 2.58 million users joining it's network in December.
 
The average data consumed per subscriber has shot up by 160 MB per user over the last year to 470 MB now, while the price realisations for the company per unit are broadly flat.
 
On the voice side, which constitutes a bulk of the revenue, Kapania said the pricing remained under pressure due to competition where over five companies are jostling for market share.
 
During the reporting quarter, a change in the depreciation policies for telecom equipment from ten years to nine years resulted in a Rs 262 crore hit for the bottom line, making the net profit look flat on a sequential basis. The profit in September quarter Rs 755.88 crore.
 
Idea Cellular Chief Financial Officer Akshaya Moondra said a rapid change in technologies in the telecom sector leads to quicker redundancy in the equipment due to which the company decided to accelerate the provisions towards depreciation.
 
The company repaid Rs 737 crore during the reporting quarter, bringing its net debt down to Rs 11,089 crore. Equity to debt ratio at the Ebitda level has been reduced to to 1:1.12, Moondra said, exuding confidence that the stronger balance sheet will help it at the forthcoming auctions.
 
Bidding For New Auctions
No new capital raising will have to be done for the auctions, he added.
 
Kapania hinted that Idea will not bid aggressively, saying, "there is no hurry to rush into anything" as sufficient spectrum is available and more will be made available over a period of time.
 
The company's requirement towards renewal is 56 MHz, which is only 10-12 per cent of the total spectrum available in the auction for the renewal basis, he said, adding that there will only be three serious players vying for this.
 
Reacting to the aggressive base price set by the Government, Kapania said never has the telecom sector invested so much in a spectrum and said that the total debt in the industry is already at Rs 2.70 trillion.
 
On its strategy regarding the faster 4G technology services rollout, Kapania said the company's priority is to finish the 3G rollout plan by taking the number of 3G supported-towers to 50-60 per cent from the current 30-40 per cent.
 
The company has a network of over 1.09 lakh towers, Kapania said, declining to give a timeline by when the rollout will be completed.
 
The Idea scrip gained 1.10 per cent to close at Rs 170.35 per piece on the BSE on Tuesday.
 
(Agencies)