MTN on Thursday published its financial results for the year ended December 2017, showing a decline in group revenue to R132.8 billion, from R147.9 billion before, however, operating profit climbed to R20.6 billion, from R14.2 billion in 2016.
Group earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization climbed to R46.95 billion, from R40.75 billion before, with headline earnings per share (HEPS) of 182 cents compared to a 77 cents headline loss per share a year earlier.
The board declared a final dividend of 450 cents per share. This, it said, is in line with the 2017 guidance of a total dividend of 700 cents per share communicated in March 2017.
For South Africa, revenue improved marginally to R42.5 billion, from R41.3 billion, with EBITDA up to R14.7 billion, from R13.5 billion in 2016. Nigeria however, was disappointing, with revenue down to R36 billion, from R47.1 billion, and EBITDA down to R14.7 billion, from R13.5 billion before.
Additional highlights for MTN South Africa:
- Subscribers at 29.5 million
- Service revenue increased by 3.9%
- Data revenue increased by 25.8%
- Digital revenue increased by 22.3%
- Capex increased by 4.4% to R11.47 billion
On a group basis, total subscribers were at 217.2 million with active data users of 69.1 million. Group service revenue decreased by 10.8%, while data revenue increased 19.4% to R28.2 billion.
Digital revenue decreased by 6.9% to R13.048 billion.
“Nigeria experienced a markedly weaker naira as well as hard currency liquidity challenges earlier in the year, but this showed signs of improvement as the year progressed.
“Although South Africa entered a technical recession in the first quarter of 2017, growth resumed in the second quarter and the rand strengthened considerably against the US dollar during the latter part of the year. Many of the currencies in our other markets weakened. In Iran, economic growth slowed somewhat and the rial weakened. Despite these macro challenges, the group continued to deliver on its operational targets,” MTN said.
Group president and CEO, Rob Shuter said: “MTN delivered a solid overall performance for the year, with progress on many fronts, despite difficult economic conditions as well as operational and regulatory challenges in certain markets. MTN Nigeria showed strong constant currency revenue growth and MTN South Africa’s postpaid business displayed encouraging improvements.
“The group’s top-line growth was driven by robust growth in data revenue (on a constant currency basis), supported by the combination of improving customer service and more stable and competitive networks.”
MTN said it spent R31.46 billion in capital expenditure (capex), rolling out a total of 8,583 3G and 8,611 4G co-located sites.
Looking ahead, MTN said it is well positioned to capture growth. “Africa and the Middle East are forecast to remain among the world’s key growth regions over the medium to long term. We are confident that MTN is well placed to benefit from this opportunity.
“We will continue to leverage our scale and enhance our competitive position, benefiting from favourable demographic growth, low data penetration in our markets and the unique opportunity we have to provide our customers with a range of digital services,” it said.