Posted by News Express | 2 March 2019 | 6,949 times
MTN’s shares dipped below the R80 mark on Friday — for the first time since November — after the group’s profit guidance for the year ended December 2018 fell short of expectations.
The stock was down 4.7% at R79.62 on Friday morning, its worst level in more than five months.
After the market’s close on Thursday, the mobile operator said headline earnings per share (HEPS) in 2018 would be between 80% and 90% higher than in 2017, or between 328c and 346c.
Analysts had expected a higher increase, given that the numbers were coming off a low base.
MTN said HEPS would have been 220c better were it not for a handful of once-off, non-cash items, including a regulatory fine in Nigeria. Earnings were dented by hyperinflation adjustments, net foreign exchange losses, and a payment to the Central Bank of Nigeria, MTN said.
The group’s full results are due on March 7.
The operator’s shares crashed in the second half of 2018 when it was slapped with a $2bn tax claim from Nigeria’s attorney-general, and a separate demand from the country’s central bank that it return $8.1bn worth of dividends.
The company ultimately reached a settlement with Nigeria’s central bank in late December, with the $8.1bn claim being reduced to $53m, though the tax matter is unresolved.
“It has been one step forward and two steps backwards for this company,” Vestact portfolio manager Byron Lotter said in a note on Friday. “The potential there is obvious — they have 220-million clients in total that they can sell network services, music, banking, games, taxis and many more content-related products to.”
Meanwhile, MTN said on Friday morning that its business in Ghana, its fourth biggest market, grew service revenues by 23.5% in 2018.
Subscriber numbers in the West African country rose 12.7% to 20.1-million, and earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (ebitda) grew 16.5% to 1.6-billion Ghanaian cedi. (Businessday SA)
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