Mumbai: Buoyed by strong growth in voice usage and data consumption, telecom operator Idea Cellular on Thursday posted 29 per cent jump in consolidated net profit at Rs 308.18 crore for the fourth quarter ended March 31, 2013. Given the strong performance, the company has announced a dividend for the first time in 16 years. The company's net profit stood at Rs 238.98 crore in the same period last fiscal.
Total revenues during January-March 2013 quarter rose by 12.88 per cent at Rs 6,061.38 crore against Rs 5,369.69 crore in the corresponding period last fiscal. Besides, the company generated cash profit of Rs 4,696.8 crore in FY'13, up 30.2 per cent over FY'12. The net debt stood at Rs 11,588 crore and for FY 14, it plans to invest Rs 3,500 crore for its network and fibre network, the company said.
"A combination of growth in minutes and data helped the business and EBIDTA growth of nearly Rs 200 crore this quarter and Rs 970 crore for the full year. The growth has also come on account of better cost management and razor sharp execution," Idea Cellular Managing Director Himanshu Kapania told reporters here. Meanwhile, Kapania said: "On the last day of the financial year we received a tax demand on Idea Cellular and its subsidiaries. We believe the demand is not in line with current tax practices and the demand is erroneous...We have appealed at appropriate forums for squashing of the demand."
For the year ended March 31, the company's net profit rose by 39.82 per cent to Rs 1,010.93 crore, while revenues increased to Rs 22,457.6 crore from Rs 19,541.1 crore in FY12. The consolidated revenues include financials of Idea Cellular and proportionate consolidation of Indus Tower (16 per cent share). The company saw minutes of usage growing by 8.5 per cent.
"The reason for high growth was a very high VLR. The company has reported 8.3 million additional VLRs during this period," he added. VLR or Visitor Location Register is a temporary database of subscribers who have roamed into the particular area, which an operator serves. Idea also attributed growth in revenues to strong rise in consumption of data services. "Our data subscribers during this period has increased by 4.5 million, the highest ever growth. Data revenue on sequential basis has risen by 25 per cent. The reason is two components: volume growth 13.8 per cent and rate improvement by 9.5 per cent," Kapania said.
Data services now contribute 6.6 per cent to service revenue. The active 3G subscriber base for the company stands at 5.1 million (of which about one million were added in the reported quarter) and average revenue per user for data stands at Rs 55, he added. "Significant change has taken place in telecom business is the mechanism in which we acquire customers. We have been stating that we have been cautious on the payout to channel partners...," Kapania said.
Kapania said the churn of the company has dropped to 4.3 per cent from 10.1 per cent two quarters back. "That is the single biggest factor for improvement in EBIDTA and profits," he added. Idea Cellular, like other operators, has earlier this year raised tariffs by withdrawing offers and discounts on the back of increasing pressure on the margins.
Idea, along with other major operators like Bharti and Vodafone, has benefitted from strong customer addition with the Supreme Court cancelling licences of smaller players like Uninor and SSTL. The company has reported growth despite the mobile sector being dogged by regulatory uncertainty, including surcharges on existing airwaves owned by operators and the government's demand that they stop providing 3G data services through roaming agreements among each other.
The company ended the March quarter with 121.6 million subscribers, compared with 112.7 million a year ago. Given the strong performance, the company's board
has declared a maiden dividend of 30 paise or 3 per cent per share. "After 16 years of operations, Idea Cellular Board has recommended a 30 paise or 3 per cent maiden dividend for its shareholders. We are thankful to our 2.70 lakh retail and institutional investors and shareholders of the company. Total payout in form of dividends will be Rs 116 crore plus including dividend distribution tax," Kapania said. Shares of the company closed at Rs 116.25, up 1.22 per cent, on the BSE on Thursday.