Airtel Africa Plc has continued strong revenue growth, increased profitability and cash flow, and continued deleveraging as indicated in the recently released financial results for the period ended 31 March 2021.
The telecommunications giant reported that revenue grew by 14.2% to $3,908m, with Q4’21 reported revenue growth of 15.4% while constant currency underlying revenue growth was 19.4%, with Q4’21 growth of 21.7%.
This was largely driven by 19.4% growth in underlying constant currency revenue, partially offset by currency devaluations, mainly in the Nigerian naira (10%), Zambian kwacha (34%) and Kenyan shilling (5.7%), in turn partially offset by appreciation in the Central African franc (7.1%).
Reported revenue benefitted from a one-time exceptional revenue of $20m relating to a settlement in Niger.
Further analysis by BRAND SPUR revealed Airtel Africa recorded growth across all regions:
- Nigeria up 21.9%
- East Africa up 23.5% and
- Francophone Africa up 10%;
This is also across key services, with revenues for voice up 11.0%, data up 31.2% and mobile money up 35.5%.
Airtel Africa’s operating profit increased 24.2% to $1,119m in reported currency, and by 32.8% in constant currency.
Profit after tax, at $415m, increased by 1.8%. This was largely flat compared with the previous year a result of the prior period recognition of a one-off gain of $72m related to the expired indemnity to certain pre-IPO investors and a higher deferred tax credit of $15m and one-off derivative gain of $47m in the prior year, as well as higher tax in the current year.
Excluding the prior-year benefits from exceptional items and the one-off derivative gain, profit after tax increased 47%.
The company’s customer base grew by 6.9% to 118.2 million, with increased penetration across mobile data (customer base up 14.5%) and mobile money services (customer base up 18.5%). The recent slowdown in customer base growth has been due to new SIM registration regulations in Nigeria.
- Underlying EBITDA was $1,792m, up 18.3% in reported currency, and growing 25.2% in constant currency.
- The underlying EBITDA margin was 46.1%, adding 181 basis points(210 basis points higher in constant currency).
- The underlying EBITDA margin for Q4’21 was 47.7%, an increase of 389 basis points in constant currency.
- Free cash flow was $647m, up 42.8% from the prior year.
- Basic EPS was 9.0 cents, down 12.6%, largely due to prior year exceptional items and a one-off derivative gain. Excluding these, basic restated EPS rose 44.5%. EPS before exceptional items was 8.2 cents.
- The Board has recommended a final dividend of 2.5 cents per share, making the total dividend for FY21 4.0 cents per share.
Raghunath Mandava, chief executive officer, on the trading update:
“In these challenging times, I want to say a huge thank you to all our employees, our business partners, and governments and regulators who have supported us, and in turn facilitated our continued support to the economies and communities we serve.
Our performance has been strong, with reported growth of 13.6% in underlying revenue and 18.3% in underlying EBITDA, and constant currency growth of 19.4% and 25.2% respectively. Contributions to this growth came across all regions, with particular improvement in Francophone Africa, and across all our major services, with mobile money, data and voice each posting double-digit revenue growth.
Our customer base also grew strongly for most of the year with new customer registration requirements in Nigeria stemming from our onboarding of new customers in the final quarter, and these restrictions were lifted in the second half of April.
In line with our strategy of unlocking value in our mobile money business, we will soon welcome two new minority investors (The Rise Fund and Mastercard) in agreed transactions which value this part of our business at $2.65bn, as well as bringing $300m into the Group. We have also agreed to sell more of our tower portfolio, yielding yet more cash for
The Covid pandemic had eased during the course of the year, however, more recently we have seen a surge in cases. So far this has had no adverse impact on the business, though we will continue to monitor the situation closely.
In these times, our purpose of transforming lives has never been more critical. It has always meant more than simply providing mobile and financial services; it is about our drive to create a sustainable future. To that end, this year the leadership team has worked to create our sustainability framework, outlining the role we can play and the focus areas where we can make the biggest difference for each of our business, our people, our community, and our environment.
We will report back with our goals later this year and deliver our first sustainability report in 2022.
The combination of bringing connectivity to underpenetrated mobile markets and improving financial inclusion through banking the unbanked, across our territories of operation, together provide us with a sizeable runway of sustainable profitable growth potential, and one we remain very confident of delivering.”