Latin American mobile group América Móvil [NYSE: AMX] has released its financial results for 2002, showing a 31.4% year-on-year increase in turnover to MXN57.5 billion (USD5.94 billion) on the back of substantial subscriber growth. The group’s subscriber base passed the 30 million mark in the fourth quarter, ending the year at 31.6 million, a rise of 21.5% during the twelve months. Mexican mobile operator Telcel accounted for the bulk of the company’s customers, with 20.07 million, up from 19.35 million at the end of the third quarter and 16.97 million at the start of the year. Comcel in Colombia saw its subscriber base rise to 2.82 million from 1.91 million a year earlier, while US-based Tracfone added 55,000 new users to take its total to 1.97 million. Telecom Americas, the holding company for América Móvil’s Brazilian assets, witnessed a 19.9% increase in subscribers to 5.19 million, the majority – 2.11 million – of which were connected to Algar Telecom Leste, a wireless operator in Rio de Janeiro and Espirito Santo.
The group’s highlights for the year included the launch of cellular services in Nicaragua through its Servicios de Comunicaciones de Nicaragua subsidiary under the PCS Digital brand name. It has installed a GSM network in Managua and aims for national coverage in the first half of this year. In a November auction América Móvil acquired licences to provide wireless services in the 1900MHz frequency band in three Brazilian regions: Sao Paulo; Santa Catarina and Paraná; and Bahia and Sergipe. In addition, in late December the group brokered a deal with Millicom International Cellular to acquire its 95% stake in Colombian mobile operator Celcaribe; the transaction, which will give Amércan Móvil a national presence in Colombia, is expected to be finalised in February.
In 2002 América Móvil’s EBITDA increasing 57.6% to MXN20.8 billion, while its EBITDA margin rose from 30.2% to 36.2%. Operating profits stood at MXN12.5 billion, up 47.4%, while a 2001 net loss of MXN875 million was converted into a net profit of MXN4.6 billion, after an impairment charge of MXN2.1 billion in Q4 pertaining almost entirely to a goodwill write-off by CompUSA, in which América Móvil holds a 49% equity stake.