MTN profit up 47%, but warns of price hikes in some markets

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  • MTN reported a 47% increase in profit for the six months to end-June, with subscribers increasing by almost 6% from a year ago to almost 282 million.
  • It warned of "moderate" price increases in some markets, subject to regulatory approvals.
  • Almost 55% of its customers across the continent now use smartphones.
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MTN reported a 47% increase in profit for the six months to end-June, with subscribers increasing by almost 6% from a year ago to almost 282 million.

This was despite a clampdown in Nigeria on unverified mobile users, which disconnected millions of users.

The company's service revenue grew by 13%, while data revenue rose 33% - despite MTN lowering the "blended cost of data" across its markets by 22.5% from a year before.

However, it warned of "moderate" price increases in some markets, subject to regulatory approvals.

"Some level of price increment will be needed to ensure the long-term sustainability of the business, including to support the level of capital investment required to maintain the capacity and quality of our networks," the company said in its results announcement. Over the past year, its capital investment increased by almost 48% to more than R17 billion. The company "accelerated" capital expenditure in Ghana and Nigeria.

In April, MTN Nigeria was forced to restrict the outgoing calls of some 19 million subscribers because their SIM cards were not linked to ID numbers. By end-June, 10.2 million had submitted their details, and 2.6 million subscribers had been reactivated. This, along with increased usage from its existing users, supported an "acceleration" in the recovery of its service revenue growth from April to June.

Almost 55% of its customers across the continent now use smartphones.

MTN's fintech revenue grew by almost 10%, with its active Mobile Money (MoMo) customers increasing by 24% to 60.7 million. The value of these transactions was up 1% (in US dollar), but 12% higher in constant currencies, reaching almost R2 trillion.

Despite rising capital investment and increased costs due to load shedding in South Africa and supply chain disruptions due to the invasion of Ukraine and China's continuing Covid-19 lockdowns, MTN increased its profit (Ebitda) margin by 0.5 percentage points to 45.3%.

Reported headline earnings per share were up 47% at 567c per share, but no half-year dividend was declared - the same as in 2021. The board expects to pay a minimum final dividend for the year of 330c per share.

Its share price jumped almost 4% to R151.48 on Thursday morning. MTN is still trading almost 30% below multi-year peaks reached earlier this year.

The company didn’t give any new information about its plans to buy Telkom, again confirming that discussions continue to be at an early stage, with no certainty that the deal will happen.

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