Eir mobile earnings grow amid shift towards higher value post-pay users

Eir, the Irish incumbent formerly known as Eircom, reported growth in earnings from its mobile business in its fiscal third quarter -- calendar first quarter of 2016 -- and the nine months to end-March, as growth in its post-pay subscriber base offset declines in pre-pay user numbers.

The operator announced that mobile EBITDA in the opening three months of 2016 hit €18 million ($20.4 million), which was some €6 million higher than the comparable period of 2015. Eir achieved the higher earnings despite mobile revenues for the quarter remaining largely flat year-on-year at €87 million before intra-company eliminations.

Mobile EBITDA margin for eir's fiscal third quarter stood at 20 per cent, the company announced in its earnings statement.

Figures for the nine months to end-March 2016 showed similar trends. The mobile businesses' EBITDA grew by €9 million, or 24 per cent, year-on-year to €45 million. Revenues for the period rose by 2 per cent compared to the nine months to end-March 2015 to €272 million before intra-company eliminations.

The company said EBITDA margin for its mobile business stood at 16 per cent in the recent nine-month period.

Earnings growth was fuelled by an increase in what eir describes as "higher value" post-pay mobile subscriber numbers in the 12 months to end-March. A loss of 41,000 pre-pay users and the addition of 34,000 post-pay subscribers left eir's total mobile customer base at 1,078,000 by end-March 2016. The operator said that means its proportion of post-pay users has grown to 47 per cent from 43 per cent at end-March 2015.

Mobile data usage increased by 45 per cent in the year to end-March, the operator added.

Group-wide earnings also increased in eir's fiscal third quarter and the nine months to end-March. Revenue in the quarter grew 3 per cent year-on-year to €321 million, while in the nine-month period the figure rose 4 per cent year-on-year to €974 million. The operator booked one-off costs of €5 million in its fiscal third quarter related to repairing storm damage after what it called "extreme flooding" over the winter.

CFO Huib Costermans said the operator is on track to meet its full-year outlook despite those one-off charges. "We have delivered another strong set of financial results for the quarter," he commented.

For more:
- see eir's earnings statement (PDF)

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