Vodafone Group plc (VOD) shares rose to the top of the FTSE 100 leaderboard Tuesday after a bullish 2018 outlook offset weaker-than-expected full year profits and slowing revenues.
Vodafone said its adjusted operating earnings rose 5.8% from last year to €14.149 billion ($15.6 billion), missing the €15.1 billion estimate complied by FactSet. Group service revenues for the full year, Vodafone said, rose 1.9% to just under €42 billion, while group revenues fell 4.4% to €47.631 billion, a figure that fell short of the €52.5 billion FactSet consensus. Vodafone's total dividend per share was lifted 2% to 14.77 pence, the company said.
Vodafone will post a reported loss for the year of €6.1 billion thanks in part to a net tax impairment of €3.7 billion linked to its operations in India. However, Looking into the current fiscal year, Vodafone said it expects to see organic adjusted operating earnings growth of between 4% and 8% and free cash flow of "around €5 billion", which would be a 20% jump from the year ended in March.
"Our focus on excellence in customer experience has enabled further improvements in our overall commercial and financial performance during the year," said CEO Vittorio Colao. "Sustained investment in network quality has provided the platform to offer more generous plans to our mobile customers in Europe, stabilising contract ARPU, and has allowed us to capture strong data growth in our emerging markets operations."
"We continue to be Europe's fastest growing broadband provider, seizing the opportunities created by convergence and winning revenue market share, supported also by our Enterprise business which continues to outperform its peers," he added.
Vodafone shares were marked 3.75% higher in the opening 30 minutes of trading in London, the biggest jump since early January, to change hands at 219 pence each, taking the year-to-date gain to around 9.33%, firmly ahead of the 5.6% advance for the Stoxx Europe 600 Telecommunications Index.