Sunil Mittal-led Bharti Airtel, the country’s largest mobile service operator reported a 24.3 per cent year-on-year growth in quarterly net profit on Thursday, aided by its aggressive expansion in rural areas to grow volumes that recently took its subscriber base beyond 10 crore.
The April-June quarter net profit stood at Rs 2,517 crore while revenues grew by 17.2 per cent on the year to touch Rs 9,942 crore. But its shares took a little knock, falling by 1 per cent to Rs. 813.90 on the BSE, as the average revenue per share (ARPU), a measure of profitability, showed a shrinkage.
The company has added a record number of 8.5 million subscribers during the quarter. “More than 60 per cent of the new subscribers are from rural areas. This is a healthy sign for the company,” said Chief Executive Officer Manoj Kohli. The company has a total subscriber base of 10.52 crore at the end of June, up 47 per cent from a year ago.
“We have already covered more than 423,000 villages and about 60 per cent of new customers are coming from rural areas,” Kohli said, adding the company was also doing better in direct-to-home (DTH) broadcasting. Bharti’s debt-equity ratio reached an all-time low of 0.14, after the company cut net debt by Rs 2,184 crore.
“New services are also picking up,” said Kohli. “In Sri lanka we are doing well and are getting majority of new subscribers. In DTH one out of every four new customers is coming to Bharti and we are adding more than 5,500 customers daily.”