Categories Concall Highlights, Earnings, Technology

Bharti Airtel Ltd Q3 FY23 Earnings Conference Call Insights

Key highlights from Bharti Airtel Ltd (BHARTIARTL) Q3 FY23 Earnings Concall

Management Update:

  • [00:02:45] BHARTIARTL said its net debt came down by INR3,000 crore due to strong operating free cash flows. The company also expects its net debt to decline further in the coming year.

Q&A Highlights:

  • [00:22:20] Manish Adukia of Goldman Sachs asked about the drivers of strong 4G subscriber additions despite declining smartphone additions. Gopal Vittal MD replied that 4G net additions have been due to combination of upgrades and the intensity of the rural rollout last quarter.
  • [00:22:57] Manish Adukia from Goldman Sachs also asked about trends of consumers upgrading to higher 5G packs. Gopal Vittal MD said it’s too premature to comment on the trends of upgrades or APRU accretion. BHARTIARTL is seeing some traffic offload from 4G to 5G.
  • [00:25:11] Manish Adukia from Goldman Sachs asked why the company is not increasing entry level prices in post-paid user base. Gopal Vittal MD answered that BHARTIARTL developed a metered plan that focuses on customers who have a smartphone or a second SIM. In postpaid, BHARTIARTL expects more 5G usage to drive stronger growth. The company took a calculated bet with an entry-level plan and rolled it out when the results met the standards.
  • [00:28:11] Arun with Avendus Capital enquired about the 4G capex for 4Q23. Gopal Vittal MD replied that it doesn’t give capex guidance. But from a 3 year view, BHARTIARTL doesn’t expect any significant change to the overall level of capex over a 3 year period.
  • [00:32:09] Arun with Avendus Capital asked about the experience in customer retention post the acquisition of 800 and 900 spectrum. Gopal Vittal MD replied that sub-gigahertz has better coverage and penetration in rural areas, and also better indoor coverage in cities. This leads to more customer satisfaction and stickiness, as well as the potential to win more customers in rural areas.
  • [00:36:32] Piyush Choudhary from HSBC also asked about the pace of 5G handset adoption and if it has changed any business plan for 5G roll out. Gopal Vittal MD answered that 5G handset adoption is currently at 11%, but is expected to reach 20% plus by March 2024. Fixed wireless has a higher router cost at $180-200, making the cost per connected home passed around $100.
  • [00:42:25] Sanjesh Jain of ICICI Securities enquired about the drivers of 50 of the top 500 account growing by 300%. Gopal Vittal MD replied that the driver is consolidating spends, leveraging the full power of Airtel, creating virtual teams, delayering the organization, and investing in adjacencies such as CPaaS, datacenters, and cloud. This requires a lot of heavy lifting, but it is a repeatable model that has already seen success in 50 accounts.
  • [00:46:19] Sanjesh Jain of ICICI Securities asked about the update on the 20% growth ex-voice for next 5 years achievable. Gopal Vittal MD said the company doesn’t want to give a number on this. The growth in this business has increased from 8% 3 years ago to 15% now. This is due to consistent efforts to drive growth.
  • [00:47:28] Sanjesh Jain of ICICI Securities asked about cost inflation on the network opex from here on. Soumen Ray CFO replied that overall opex will be equal to or lower than the current one. However a number cannot be given.
  • [00:52:48] Mohit Motwani asked about the rights issue of INR15,000 crore, when it’s expected to be called. Harjeet Kohli Joint MD answered that the pending calls are available for a few more quarters, and it is useful to keep the product alive in order to re-benchmark when there is an effective need for the balance call.

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