Vodafone makes first-quarter gains

The latest mobile and landline numbers for New Zealand's three largest telcos.

RELATED VIDEO: Departing Vodafone NZ boss Russell Stanners answers the question, "Did you stay in the job too long?" He talks about the Sky deal that wasn't, the stalled IPO and what's next (July 21)

Vodafone NZ enjoyed modest gains in the first quarter of its 2018/2019 financial year, according to a report filed by its UK parent overnight.

The carrier finished the quarter with 2.58 million mobile customers, a net gain of 18,000 over the previous quarter, and 96,000 more than the year-ago quarter.

In the fixed-line market, it inched up to 428,000, against the previous quarter's 426,000 and the year-ago 425,000.

Vodafone's most recent mobile play is its launch of a new unlimited data plan —  albeit (like rivals) with some limiting fine-print that people will want to read before they sign up.

Notably, unlike management commentary accompanying the previous two quarters' results, there is no mention of a possible Vodafone NZ IPO.

Speaking to NBR recently, departing Vodafone NZ chief executive Russell Stanners said while he had been very keen on an NZX listing, chances had evaporated for the time being. Many saw going public as a "plan B" after the Commerce Commission blocked Vodafone's proposal to launch its New Zealand unit with Sky NZ. Now, apparently, the multinational does not think the market timing is right.

How the others compare: mobile
Its Toronto-listed majority shareholder Trilogy International recently reported that 2degrees had a total 1.21 million mobile customers, a drop from the year-ago 1.44m.

In its first-half result, Spark continued to close the gap on Vodafone, with its total mobile customer number rising to 3.6% to 2.44 million (keen readers will have noted there are now more mobile connections than people in New Zealand – a function of a lot of people now having more than one smart device with a sim card). Spark is due to report its full-year result next month.

Analysts keep a close eye on the percentage of each telco's mobile customers on contract plans, who spend a lot more than those on pre-pay.

Vodafone NZ's number on contract fractionally increased to 41.7% in the first quarter.

That compares to Spark's market-leading 52.88%, and 2degrees' 32.73%.

How the others compare: fixed 
Spark reported 697,000 fixed-line customers in its first-half result (including 104,000 in its fast-growing fixed-wireless segment).

That maintained its comfortable lead over Vodafone (with its aforementioned 428,000), Orcon and Slingshot owner Vocus (199,000), Trustpower (87,000) and 2degrees (69,000).

Vodafone's latest play in fixed-line is a partnership with Vocus to unbundle UFB lines. The pair will take advantage of a pending law change to move their own gear into exchanges owned by Chorus and other UFB network operators, giving them more wriggle room on pricing and features for their retail UFB plans.

While Spark is taking a punt on streaming the Rugby World Cup 2019, Mr Stanners recently told NBR Vodafone NZ has no plans to bid for exclusive content. It lives or dies on the back of content deals brokered by its wholesale content partner Sky TV; he said he had faith that, while Sky would not win rights to all A-list sporting events, it would win most.

Vodafone Group's trading update says the company will bid for football rights in some countries but only where they are profitable (while the Vodafone NZ-Sky TV merger was blocked here, similar hookups in other territories were allowed by regulators). It will also continue to sign up exclusive rights to movies and TV series in some countries.

Revenue decline at Vodafone Group
Vodafone Group's global revenue fell 4.9% to €10.9b, according to its trading update. The company says it would have registered a slight gain if not for accounting changes and foreign exchange headwinds.

It did give a profit-loss update for the group or any quarterly numbers for its fully-owned NZ subsidiary.

For 2017, Vodafone NZ reported a profit of $57.5m, turning around a loss of $18.3m loss. Revenue increased 2.8% to $2.05 billion

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RELATED VIDEO: Departing Vodafone NZ boss Russell Stanners answers the question, "Did you stay in the job too long?" He talks about the Sky deal that wasn't, the stalled IPO and what's next (July 21)


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