UK-based mobile giant Vodafone Group has reported its financial results for the three months ended 31 December 2010, with the quarter’s positive performance prompting it to upgrade its forecasts for the full year period. In its third fiscal quarter Vodafone saw service revenue climb 2.5% year-on-year to GBP10.96 billion (USD17.8 billion), with the company attributing the growth to its continued focus on data services; in the three-month period turnover from data services was GBP1.33 billion, up 27.2% on an organic basis, which Vodafone attributed to higher smartphone penetration and data attach rates in Europe. Revenues attributed to the group’s operations in Africa, the Middle East and Asia were up 9.3% y-o-y, helped by improved performance in India, while European revenues rose 0.2% against the same period, with Vodafone Spain continuing to face difficulties. Capital expenditure in the quarter was GBP1.5 billion, 14.5% higher than the same quarter last year, predominantly Vodafone said, as the result of ‘timing issues’. Year-to-date CAPEX meanwhile rose by 0.7%, with the key drivers being India, where the group’s subsidiary Vodafone Essar has started the rollout of a 3G network, and the continued network enhancement in Turkey, investment in South Africa-based Vodacom’s mobile data network and continued capital expenditure in Europe to ‘maintain superior network quality’.
On the back of the results Vodafone revealed that it was increasing its guidance for adjusted operating profit, with it now expected to be towards the upper end of the GBP11.8 billion to GBP12.2 billion range that the company had initially set in November last year. Other forecasts have, however, been kept, with Vodafone reiterating that it expects full year earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) to ‘decline at a substantially lower rate than that experienced in the 2010 financial year’.
Commenting on the group’s performance, Vodafone CEO Vittorio Colao said: ‘This is the fifth successive quarter of service revenue growth improvement, with strong results from India, Turkey, the UK and Vodacom … Our performance has been driven by the effective execution of our strategy to strengthen our businesses and deliver growth, particularly in data services and emerging markets.’
In terms of subscribers, at end-December 2010 Vodafone Group’s proportionate customer base stood at 342.96 million, up from 331.96 million three months earlier, with 65% of those signed up on pre-paid connections. India’s Vodafone Essar saw the greatest number of new customers in the quarter, adding 8.7 million new subscribers in the three months to end-December. At the other end of the scale Vodafone Greece reportedly shed some 822, 000 customers, with subscriber numbers likely impacted by the country’s recent compulsory registration scheme for all new and existing pay-as-you-go SIMs.