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Vodafone Group

A correct H2 but a slightly disappointing new guidance and... Colao's departure

In terms of service revenues, Q4 was quite as expected with organic growth at constant change of 1.4%, slightly better than the +1.1% recorded in Q3 but lower than the 2% recorded in H1. European growth, which had moderated to 0.3% in Q3, was 0.6% (excluding the positive impact of a legal settlement in Germany). Note that, in Europe, the increased drag from roaming regulation was completely offset by an improved global performance in mobile. In parallel, growth in AMAP was still strong at +7.7% during the quarter (vs 6.8% in Q3) but it was completely offset in reported terms by an 1.5ppt adverse impact from FX (particularly with regards to the Turkish lira). Note the group’s revenue for the whole year declined by 2.2% yoy in reported terms, primarily due to the deconsolidation of Vodafone Netherlands following the creation of the JV VodafoneZiggo and FX. Like in H1, the good news came from the EBITDA which was up organically by 10.6% yoy. Excluding the negative impact of net roaming declines in Europe and the benefits in the UK from the introduction of handset financing and regulatory settlements in the period, organic adjusted EBITDA grew by a solid 6.5% (lower, however, than the impressive +9.3% recorded in H1) with a broad-based EBITDA improvement in 20 out of Vodafone’s 25 markets. The group which had raised its full-year guidance to +10% last November (vs +4-8% previously) has eventually exceeded its target with an annual organic EBITDA growth of 11.8%. But the bad surprise was the announcement in parallel of the succession plan for the CEO. Effective from 1 October 2018, Vittorio Colao will be succeeded by Group CFO Nick Read. So it won’t be Colao(who was very much appreciated by investors) who will manage the recent big acquisitions made by the group (see our latest “_A brilliant deal which deserved a high price_”). As for 2018/19, the group expects EBITDA growth of 1-5%, excluding the impact of UK handset financing in both years, and the significant benefit in the prior year from regulatory settlements in the UK and a legal settlement in Germany. It’s a guidance that is a little bit disappointing, corresponding (on guidance FX rates) to an adjusted EBITDA range of €14.15-14.65bn for the year (we have €14.8bn in our model). Finally, note the final dividend per share of €0.1023, up 2%, giving the total dividends per share for the year of €0.1507. The board still intends to increase dividends per share annually.

  • 15 May 18
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