Airtel Africa grows full year profit by 82% to $755mn

Airtel Africa Plc has released its results for the financial year ended March 31, 2022 which shows strong growth, margin expansion and cash generation. The full year highlights show reported revenue grew by 20.6percent for the year, to $4.714billion and 17.8percent for fourth-quarter (Q4).

Constant currency underlying revenue grew by 23.3percent for the year and 19.1percent in Q4. Constant currency underlying revenue growth was strong in all regions: Nigeria up 27.7percent, East Africa up 22.7percent and Francophone Africa up 17.2percent; and across all key services, with revenue in Voice up 15.4percent, Data up 34.6percent and Mobile Money up 34.9percent.

Underlying EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) of $2.311billion grew by 29percent in reported currency. Underlying EBITDA margin of 49percent increased by 294 basis points. Operating profit grew by 37.2percent to $1.535million in reported currency.

Profit after tax grew by 82percent to $755million. Basic earnings per share (EPS) of 16.8 cents, represents an increase of 86.5percent. EPS before exceptional items of 16cents (FY’2021: 8.2cents). Operating free cash flow of $1.655million, up 40.5percent, with net cash generated from operating activities up 20.7percent to $2.011million.

Over the last twelve months the business has repaid nearly $1.4billion of debt at HoldCo as a result of strong cash upstreaming across its OpCos and proceeds from minority investments in mobile money and tower sales.

Leverage ratio improved to 1.3x from 2.0x in the prior year, with $1billion of debt now held at HoldCo (FY’21: $2.4billion). Customer base of 128.4 million, up 8.7percent, with increased penetration across mobile data (customer base up 15.2percent) and mobile money services (customer base up 20.7percent). NIN/SIM regulations in Nigeria impacted customer growth in first-half (H1), but then returned to strong growth, adding 4 million customers in Nigeria during second half (H2) 2022. Board recommends a final dividend of 3 cents per share, making total FY’22 dividends 5 cents per share (FY’21: 4 cents).

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Segun Ogunsanya, chief executive officer, Airtel Africa said, “This is another strong set of results for Airtel Africa, demonstrating our solid execution as we continue to enrich the lives of a growing number of people through leveraging the sizeable opportunity to promote digital and financial inclusion across our markets.

“We have delivered strong double-digit growth in revenues across all our regions and all our key services, with improving margins driven by strong cost control, and expanding cash generation which is enabling us to continue to invest in our network and services and expand our distribution, as well as strengthening our balance sheet and increasing our returns to shareholders. We are connecting more customers in new and existing coverage areas and driving usage levels and ARPUs to new highs.”

“We have successfully executed on a number of strategic initiatives in the year, with tower sales completed in four countries, $550million of minority investments secured for our mobile money business and a successful buyout of minorities in our Nigerian operation. Our receipt last month of a full PSB licence in Nigeria will help us to accelerate financial inclusion in the territory and drive our mobile money business even faster.

“While the fundamentals of our six-pillar growth strategy remain unchanged, we are looking to accelerate our performance through a greater focus on digitalisation and we have underpinned our strategic pillars with our sustainability ambition.

“I am particularly proud of the progress we have made in articulating our sustainability strategy this year as well as the partnership we announced with UNICEF to help drive and support educational programmes in our territories. I very much look forward to us publishing both our pathway to net zero and our first full sustainability report later in the year.

“Turning to the outlook, long-term opportunities for us remain attractive. While mindful of currency devaluation and repatriation risks, we continue to work actively to mitigate all our material risks and to deliver value for all our stakeholders. There are increasing challenges from global inflationary pressures, but we continue to target revenue growth ahead of the market and moderate margin expansion,” Ogunsanya stated.

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