MTN Group said on Monday that it expects to report an improvement of at least 20% in headline earnings and attributable earnings per share for the year ended December 2018.
The telecommunications provider, which operates in 21 markets in Africa and the Middle East, did not provide any further updates.
“MTN is currently in the process of finalising its results for the 12 months ended 31 December 2018, which will be announced on the stock exchange news service of the JSE on or about Thursday, 7 March 2019,” it said in a note to investors.
JSE-listed companies are required to disclose to shareholders if they expect earnings to rise or fall by more than 20% over the prior reporting period.
In the 2017 financial year, the group reported headline and attributable earnings per share of R1.82 and R2.46 respectively. That Heps number compared to a 77c loss in 2016, when performance had been impacted by the Nigerian regulatory fine of R5/share.
In 2017, the Nigerian regulatory fine, imposed after MTN failed to cut off about five million unregistered Sim cards, reduced Heps by 46c. Heps in 2017 were also impacted by a number of once-off and non-cash post-tax items totalling R4.83. These related to hyperinflation adjustments excluding impairments of 96c, net foreign exchange losses of R1.59, MTN Zakhele Futhi share-based payment expense of 24c and a loss on the derecognition of a loan to an IHS tower subsidiary of R1.58.
“There were a lot of once-offs in 2017 so the market was expecting at least 20 percent,” Ruhan du Plessis, an analyst at Avior Capital Markets in Cape Town, said by phone. “MTN has said it will give more detail closer to the time, but there is not enough detail in today’s announcement to get too positive.”
The mobile-phone company is facing a Nigerian court hearing later this week over an allegation it owes $2 billion in taxes in its biggest market, which it denies.
“A further trading statement will be issued on Sens once the company obtains a reasonable degree of certainty as to the likely range within which the Heps and EPS are expected to be finalised,” MTN said on Monday.
MTN shares were trading 1.2% lower at R87.07/share at 11.20am on Monday. — (c) 2019 NewsCentral Media, with additional reporting (c) 2019 Bloomberg LP