Vodafone Group has reported what it called a resilient financial performance in line with expectations for the first half of its financial year (FY21) ended 30 September 2020. Six-month consolidated revenue declined by 2.3% year-on-year to EUR21.427 billion (USD25.354 billion), as good underlying momentum and the benefit from the acquisition of Liberty Global’s assets in Germany and Central & Eastern Europe was offset by lower revenue from roaming, visitors and handset sales (all influenced by the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic), foreign exchange headwinds and the disposal of Vodafone New Zealand. Adjusted EBITDA declined by 1.9% to EUR7.023 billion as the decline in revenue was partially offset by good cost control with net Europe opex savings of EUR300 million realised during 1H21. Net profit for April-September 2020 reached EUR1.555 billion – boosted by a gain of EUR1.0 billion from the merger of Vodafone Hutchison Australia into TPG Telecom – compared to a EUR1.891 billion net loss posted a year earlier relating to an adverse legal ruling affecting Vodafone Idea (India) which outweighed a EUR1.1 billion gain from the New Zealand sale.
Reaffirming a FY21 free cash flow guidance of at least EUR5 billion (pre-spectrum and restructuring) and adjusted EBITDA expected to be EUR14.4 billion–EUR14.6 billion, Vodafone CEO Nick Read commented: ‘The results demonstrate the success of our strategic priorities to date, namely increasing customer loyalty, growing our fixed broadband base, driving digitisation to simplify the company and capture significant cost savings, and deliver 5G efficiently through network sharing.’ The report noted that Vodafone had launched 5G in 127 cities across nine European countries and in the fixed broadband sector, reached ‘52 million marketable homes passed with Gigabit speed’.
In operational highlights, Vodafone Group reached 65.0 million European mobile contract customers (including Dutch joint venture VodafoneZiggo) at end-September 2020, up from 63.8 million a year earlier. European fixed broadband customers rose to 25.4 million (up from 24.5 million), with European consumer converged (fixed plus mobile service) customers rising to 7.5 million (6.8 million). Across its African subsidiaries, Vodafone said that ‘data users’ grew to 84.5 million (81.2 million). Group-wide IoT SIM connections increased from 94 million in September 2019 to 112 million twelve months later.