November 11, 2019 / 5:55 AM / 3 months ago

UPDATE 1-S.Africa's Vodacom H1 profits rise 19%

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JOHANNESBURG, Nov 11 (Reuters) - South African mobile operator Vodacom on Monday reported a rise of 18.9% in half-year profits compared to 2018, when it was hit by one-off costs related to a share scheme offered to black investors.

The company, majority owned by Britain’s Vodafone, also said its home market had seen improved performance after revenue had been hurt by stagnant growth as well as cuts in tariffs and data use regulations.

Headline earnings per share (HEPS), the main profit measure in South Africa, were 460 cents for the six months to Sept. 30, up from 387 cents a year earlier.

The company was hit in 2018 by the one-off costs of the black economic empowerment transaction, which helped drag half-year HEPS down by more than 13%.

Chief Executive Shameel Joosub said Vodacom’s performance in 2019 was also helped by “sustained growth” in businesses outside South Africa, such as Safaricom in Kenya, where Vodacom is a part owner.

“Our international portfolio remains a star performer, growing service revenue by 15.5% in a period characterised by macro and political stability and high demand for data,” Joosub said in a statement.

Group service revenue rose 4.2% overall, Vodacom continued, adding that foreign currency translations boosted group growth. Group service revenue grew by 0.3% in South Africa.

The operator added 2.7 million customers in South Africa and its international operations, as well as 2.7 million in Kenya’s Safaricom, and serves a combined 115 million customers groupwide. (Reporting by Emma Rumney; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)

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