eir earnings boosted by rises in mobile, bundled services in period to end-December

Eir CEO Richard Moat said an increase in post-pay mobile subscriber numbers contributed to the Irish operator's fourth consecutive quarter of EBITDA growth in its fiscal second quarter, which covers the three months to Dec. 31.

The operator increased overall EBITDA 4 per cent year-on-year to €117 million ($127 million) in the recent quarter -- growth that Moat said was underpinned by a strong performance from eir's mobile business. The operator also generated its third straight quarter of revenue growth during its fiscal second quarter, with income up 4 per cent year-on-year at €328 million.

In an earnings statement, Moat said the group's EBITDA growth was aided by "continued strong performance in mobile and an improving number of post-pay customers, which topped 500,000 for the first time."

Eir ended the quarter with 1.09 million mobile users in total, meaning its post-pay users accounted for 46 per cent of its overall base at end-December. Some 348,000 mobile users (post- and pre-pay) were on 4G tariffs, and the average data consumed by pre-pay users exceeded 1 GB for the first time during the quarter, the company stated.

Mobile EBITDA in eir's fiscal second quarter grew 24 per cent year-on-year to €11 million and increased by 60 per cent year-on-year in the operator's fiscal first half to €27 million.

Penetration of triple- and quad-play bundles also increased during the fiscal second quarter, with 18 per cent of households signed up to at least a triple-play package by end-December.

CFO Huib Costermans said the earnings growth came despite "a highly competitive landscape" in the Irish telecoms market.

Costermans added that figures for the first half of eir's financial year show the operator is "on track for our stated outlook of low single digit bottom line growth for the full financial year." Total revenue in the six months to end-December grew 4 per cent year-on-year to €653 million, while EBITDA for the period increased 5 per cent year-on-year to €237 million.

The company allocated €500,000 to cover the cost of repairing storm damage in its fiscal second-quarter earnings and cautioned that it would book a higher charge in its fiscal third quarter when the bulk of the repairs will be carried out.

Other headwinds facing eir in its fiscal third quarter include the impact of an announced rise in the cost of its bundled services that the Irish Times reported is due to be implemented in early April. Eir is also contesting claims by rival operators that it abused its dominant position in the wholesale market, Ireland's Independent newspaper reported.

For more:
- see eir's earnings statement
- view this Irish Times article
- read this Irish Independent report

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