India's largest mobile operator, Bharti Airtel, on Thursday reported its 13th consecutive quarter of profit decline with a 49% year-on-year slump in earnings to Rs. 509 crore for the quarter ended March 2013 against Rs. 1,006 crore a year ago, but the company said that the worst may be over as pricing stability was returning to the sector.
The news sent the company's shares down 4% intra-day on the Bombay Stock Exchange, before it recovered to close at Rs. 317, down 0.6%.
Analysts had expected the firm to report a net profit of Rs. 741 crore, according to Reuters.
Revenues rose 9.2% to Rs. 20,344 crore during the period compared to a year ago.
The company attributed the fall in profits to a higher tax outgo and depreciation costs. The company has comparatively done well in India, while its Africa operations continue to make losses.
In India, its mobile data traffic has grown by 66%.
Net loss from Africa operations widened to Rs. 486 crore during the January-March quarter of the previous fiscal against Rs. 341 crore a year ago due to a slowdown in economic activity and political instability.
"I am pleased to see that market corrections have started with improvements in the quality of customer acquisitions and that pricing stability is returning to the sector in India," said Sunil Mittal, chairman and managing director, Bharti Airtel.
"Overall, the last year or so, the data ecosystem in the country is growing really well, our 3G expansion is on track... the really good news is that pricing stability seems to be returning," said Gopal Vittal, joint managing director and CEO, India operations, Bharti Airtel.
For fiscal year 2012-13, the company's net profit of Rs. 2,276 crore was the smallest in seven years, 46.6% lower compared to Rs. 4,259 crore in 2011-12.