Bharti Airtel shares gained over 3 per cent on Thursday, buoyed by the company's strong March quarter earnings and share buyback announcement.
Bharti Airtel, India's biggest telecom operator, on Wednesday reported a consolidated net profit of Rs 1,290 crore, beating Street estimates. Brokers polled by NDTV Profit expected Bharti to post a net profit of Rs 1,263 crore.
Bharti Airtel's revenue rose 4 per cent sequentially to Rs 24,960 crore.
Bharti's EBITDA or operating profit rose 8 per cent quarter-on-quarter to Rs 9,135, while its operating margin increased 140 basis points sequentially to 36.6 per cent.
Bharti Airtel's Africa business, which has been a drag so far, reported 0.5 per cent revenue growth at $953 million, with 100 basis points increase in EBITDA margin.
Bharti Airtel, headed by billionaire Sunil Mittal, beat Street estimates on most of the operating parameters. Its subscribers increased 3.3 per cent sequentially compared to estimates of 0.1 increase, while its minutes of usage increased 2.6 per cent compared to expectation of 2.5 per cent increase.
Bharti's average revenue per user (ARPU) came in at Rs 194 against estimates of Rs 193. However, Bharti's average data ARPU fell 1.9 per cent quarter-on-quarter to Rs 196 on the back of 3.8 per cent decline in data pricing.
Bharti's board also approved a share buyback of Rs 1,434 crore at a price of Rs 400, representing 0.9 per cent of the total paid up capital of the company. The buyback price is 7 per cent higher than Wednesday's closing price.
Domestic brokerage Religare said Bharti's overall earnings are good with recovery in growth and margins.
"This result clearly reflects Bharti's strong focus on cost management as nearly all business have shown sharp margin improvement including Africa and South Asia," the brokerage said in a note to clients.
Religare has a "hold" rating on Bharti Airtel. However, it expects 4-5 per cent upgrade in EBITDA post Q4 earnings.
UBS and Deutsche Bank have "buy" rating on Bharti Airtel with targets of Rs 480 and Rs 430 respectively.
Bharti Airtel's shares ended 0.09 per cent lower at Rs 372.70 apiece compared to 1.77 per cent fall in Sensex.
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