Friday, August 9, 2019, 11:00AM /NSE / Header Image Credit: Phenomenal
Raghunath Mandava, Chief Executive Officer, Commented on the Trading Update:
“I am pleased to report a strong start to the financial year, in our first quarterly results since the IPO. These results, which are in line with our expectations, are clear evidence of the effectiveness of our strategy across Voice, Data and Mobile Money. In the quarter, we delivered a 10% increase in revenue in constant currency terms, with even higher underlying EBITDA growth largely as a result of operating leverage and a tight focus on costs which led to underlying EBITDA margin expansion of 101bps.
Voice revenue, our largest business product, was up 3% largely driven by 9% growth in our customer base, now reaching nearly 100mn customers across our footprint. Data revenue, our largest contributor to growth, was up 36% as an increasing number of customers relied on our high-quality and high-speed LTE network, resulting in a 79% growth in data usage. Mobile Money revenue, our fastest growing business, increased by 42% as we expanded our distribution reach.
We continued to invest in our 4G network, adding nearly 1,500 sites; now more than half of our sites are 4G. We also continue to prepare for the launch of our Mobile Money business in Nigeria, securing approval of the brand name, an important step as we await approval for our payment service bank license.
The business continues to show momentum and we are confident of delivering sustained growth across Voice, Data and Mobile Money, underpinning our medium-term aspirations for revenue and profit growth.”
Financial Review for the Quarter, Ended 30 June 2019
Reported revenue increased by 6.9%, as constant currency growth of 10.2% was partially offset by currency devaluation.
Constant currency revenue growth was largely driven by a 9% increase in the customer base, to 99.7mn, and a broadly stable ARPU at $ 2.7. Double digit revenue growth in Nigeria and East Africa more than offset a revenue decrease in Rest of Africa region. Across products, revenue growth in constant currency was widespread with mobile Voice (+3.2%), Data (+35.9%), and Mobile Money (+41.8%), all delivering growth.
Operating profit increased by 9.7% as revenue growth and broadly stable expenditure more than offset an adverse impact of foreign exchange.
Profit after tax was $132.2mn, a decrease of 12.2 % compared to the prior year, as growth in operating profit was partially offset by higher finance costs and lower gains on exceptional items.
Basic EPS was $ 4.1 cents, down 62.2%, largely as a result of an increase in the number of shares issued to pre-IPO investors.
Alternative Performance Measures
Reported underlying EBITDA was $347.6mn, up 9.7% largely driven by 12.8% constant currency growth, partially offset by currency devaluation. Underlying EBITDA margin was at 43.7%, an improvement of 101 bps as operating efficiencies in network expense and other overheads, more than offset inflation costs and the one-off impact from the quality of service charge in Gabon.
During the quarter, the adverse foreign exchange impact was $23mn on revenues and $ 9mn on underlying EBITDA, largely driven by the devaluation of the Zambian Kwacha, Malawian Kwacha and Central African Franc.
Finance costs increased to $81.5mn, largely as a result of lapping one-off benefits incurred in the prior year and foreign exchange impact on debt, which more than offset some derivative gains and a 20% decrease in interest costs as a result of lower debt.
Tax charge before exceptional items was broadly in line with the prior year. The effective tax rate for the financial year ending 31 March2020 is expected to be in the range of 30% to 32%.
Exceptional items mainly consisted of a $ 14.0mn gain for the recognition of deferred tax assets in Rest of Africa and a $ 72mn gain related to the expired indemnity to certain pre-IPO investors as disclosed in the registration document published on 28 May 2019.
Earnings per share before exceptional items was $ 2.0 cents, a decrease of 46.8%, as operating profit growth was more than offset by an increase in the number of shares issued to pre-IPO investors and higher finance costs. Free cash flow was $ 102.4mn, down 29.2%, largely as a result of increased capex, due to network modernization and rollout of additional sites, and higher tax payments.
Net Debt as of 30 June 2019 was $ 4,081mn, and it did not include $ 670mn of IPO proceeds received on 3rd July 2019
Other Significant Updates
On 28 June 2019 the Airtel Africa announced the successful pricing of its Initial Public Offering at 80 pence (NGN 363) per Share (the "Offer Price"). The Offer comprised 744,047,619 new Shares(being the total of 704,819,651 new Shares in respect of the global offer to institutional investors in various jurisdictions outside of Nigeria and 39,227,968 new Shares in respect of the offer to qualified institutional investors and high net worth investors in Nigeria (the “Nigerian Offer”), equating to a total Offer size of approximately £595 million (NGN 270 billion, or $750 million) and representing approximately 19 per cent. of the Company’s issued share capital immediately following UK Admission and Nigerian Admission (including the over-allotment option).
Unconditional trading of the Shares commenced on the London Stock Exchange on 3 July 2019 and commenced on the Nigerian Stock Exchange on 9 July 2019.
Business Review for the Quarter, Ended 30 June 2019
Reported revenue in Nigeria increased by 22.2%, broadly in line with constant currency growth as a result of a stable foreign exchange environment.
Revenue in constant currency was up 22.0%, largely driven by voice and data revenue growth, both up by double digit.
Voice revenue increased 12.7% mainly driven by double digit increase in customer growth, as we continued to leverage our efficient distribution system and leading 4G network to acquire new customers. Data revenue was up 73.1% and it was the largest contributor to revenue growth. Data growth was driven by a 21% increase in customer base and growth in ARPU as a result of the increased penetration of 4G data customers as the business benefited from the roll out of the 4G network. Data revenue in the quarter ended 30 June 2019 accounts for 30% of the Nigeria revenue, compared to 21% in the prior year.
Underlying EBITDA margin in constant currency increased by 7.4 ppts as a result of revenue growth and operating efficiencies in the network expenses and other overheads. During the quarter, capital expenditure more than doubled, to $53.2mn, as the business continued to expand and invest in the 4G network, with the number of 4G sites increased fivefold, representing 60% of total sites.
Reported revenue in East Africa increased by 4.0%, as constant currency growth of 9.6% was partially compensated by currency devaluation in Zambia and Malawi. Revenue growth of 9.6% in constant currency was driven by widespread growth in all three products: Voice, Data and Mobile Money.
Voice revenue was up 5.0%, largely driven by customer growth and increased usage, while ARPU slowed down due to a decrease in interconnect usage rates in Tanzania, Malawi, Uganda, Zambia.
Data revenue increased by 12.5% driven by increased customer base, ARPU and data usage per customer. The growth is led by the expansion of network infrastructure across countries with 4G sites, accounting for nearly half of the sites for the segment. The affordable “more for more” bundle offerings was another key driver of the 4G data usage growth. Data revenue now accounts for a quarter of total revenue in the segment.
Other revenue increased 17.5% largely driven by a strong performance of Mobile Money and messaging.
Underlying EBITDA margin in constant currency increased by 2.3 ppts as a result of revenue growth and stable operating expenditure driven by operating efficiencies.
During the quarter, capital expenditure increased by 41.3% to $29.8mn as a result of the investment in the network, with the number of 4G sites doubling and covering 47% of total sites.
Rest of Africa
Performance in Rest of Africa was in line with recent trends and largely driven by continued macro-economic weakness in Niger and the Republic of Congo.
Reported revenue in Rest of Africa declined by 8.0%, as a result of the devaluation of the Central African Franc and constant currency decline of 4.0%.
Data delivered strong growth of 21.2% largely driven by increased data usage with 4G launches in Republic of Congo and Niger, network modernization in the Democratic Republic of Congo and expansion in rural areas.
Data growth was more than offset by a decline in voice revenue, as 3.3% customer growth was impacted by a reduction of interconnect usage charges in Niger, overall market weakness in the Republic of Congo, rate correction in Gabon and usage decline in the Democratic Republic of Congo, as a result of rationalization of night bonus minutes.
Other revenue was flat, as growth in Mobile Money was offset by a decline in the value added services.
Underlying EBITDA margin in constant currency decreased by 7.1 ppts as a result of lower revenue and a one-off quality of services charge in Gabon.
During the quarter capital expenditure was $14.2mn as the business continued to invest in the 4G network, with the number of 4G sites increasing by more than threefold.
Voice Revenue in constant currency grew by 3.2% largely driven by customer growth of 9.3% and usage increase of 1.6%. Customer base growth is largely driven by stable churn and expansion of distribution infrastructure.
Voice ARPU decline of 5.8% was largely driven by weakness in Rest of Africa and decrease in interconnect rates across key markets, especially in East Africa which more than offset ARPU growth in Nigeria.
Data Revenue increased 35.9% in constant currency largely driven by double digit customer growth, mainly in Nigeria and East Africa, and 54% increase in usage as a result of LTE network expansion across countries and simplified “more for more” data bundle offerings. Data accounted for 26% of total revenue, up from 21% in the prior quarter.
More than 30% of all customers are recognized as data users as a result of increased smartphone penetration, up 3.2 % to 30.7%, and the expansion of the 3G and 4G network, with more than 11,000 broadband base stations added, and 4G sites now accounting for half of the total sites.
Data ARPU increased by 17.0% mainly driven by an increase of data usage and positive customer mix, as a result of growth in 4G customer coverage.
Revenue in constant currency in Mobile money grew by 41.8% driven by customer growth of 23.6% and transaction value growth of 24.0%. Growth was largely driven by the expansion of the distribution infrastructure, as the business invested in exclusive kiosks and mobile money branches, up 67% and 200% respectively compared to last year. In addition, expansion of the merchant ecosystem and affordable tariffs has contributed to transaction value growth. ARPU in mobile money increased 16% driven by subscriber growth and higher contribution from PTP and merchant payments.
Mobile Money underlying EBITDA increased by 99.7%, amounting to US32.5mn. The growth was mainly driven by revenue growth supported by an efficient cost structure. Mobile Money underlying EBITDA margin was 48.1%, up from 32.9%.