Vodafone Group PLC VOD
Q4 2013 Earnings Call Transcript

Transcript Call Date 05/21/2013

Operator: Good afternoon, and welcome to the Vodafone Overseas Investor Conference Call. Throughout today’s call, all participants will be in a listen-only mode, and afterwards there will be an opportunity to ask questions. Just to remind you, this conference call is being recorded. Today I'm very pleased to present Andy Halford. Please begin your meeting.

Andy Halford - CFO: Good morning and thank you for joining the call today. As you know, we announced our full year 2013 results this morning. So let me take you through these at a high level before I open up to your questions. So the headlines.

Group revenue was GBP44.4 billion for the year. Service revenue was GBP40.9 billion, which is an organic decline of 1.9% over the year. Although excluding MTRs, it was a small growth of plus 0.2%. The fourth quarter service revenue was down 4.2% on an organic basis, but suffers from an incremental MTR drag and the impact of lapping the leap year. Underlying, the trend was similar to Q3.

EBITDA was GBP13.3 billion after GBP0.3 billion of restructuring costs of restructuring costs with a margin of 29.9%. This was down by 0.5 percentage points on an organic basis, but flat after taking out restructuring costs, or rather down 0.1percentage point after taking out restructuring costs, so very nearly flat.

Margins declined in Italy due to top line pressures and slightly in Germany, especially in the first half. But we saw continued margin improvements in India and in Vodacom. All of our emerging markets have grown their margin in the year. We expect margins this year to decline slightly given top line trends.

The associates’ contribution of GBP6.5 billion is up 30% year-on-year, with a continuing strong performance from Verizon Wireless. Adjusted operating profit was up 9.3% at GBP12 billion, above our guidance range. Financing costs were down slightly over the year due to lower levels of net debt and lower mark-to-market losses.

The tax charge for the year increased by GBP0.3 billion, with the underlying effective tax rate moving to the high 20s, representing the increased weighting of Verizon Wireless in our overall profit mix. We booked GBP0.5 billion accounting gain after ascribing fair value to the acquired assets of Cable & Wireless, and we recorded a goodwill impairment of GBP1.8 billion in the second half relating to Italy, which added to the impairment charge of the first half totaled GBP7.7 billion for the year.

Adjusted EPS increased by 5% this year to 15.65 pence. This resulted from the higher associate income and 1.5 billion reduction in share count over the year as a result of our share buybacks. Our free cash flow was GBP5.6 billion, towards the top end of our guidance range after maintaining CapEx at GBP6.3 billion. We received GBP2.4 billion of income dividend from Verizon Wireless during the year, and we will shortly, in June, receive GBP2.1 billion that we will retain in the business for spectrum costs.

Just looking at this very quickly by region. Our Northern and Central European region, which represents around half of the Group service revenue, was flat over the year or down 0.2%, supported by strong growth in Turkey of 17.3%, Germany up 0.5%, but offset by weaker performance in the U.K., down 4%, and the Netherlands down just under 3%. AMAP, the emerging markets region which represents around 30% of the control group, saw growth of 3.9% in revenues in the year, with strong performances in India, up 10.7%; Vodacom up 3%; and Egypt up 3.7%; partially offset by Australia, which was down 13%.

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