Mobile phone giant Vodafone has notched up its first growth in full-year revenue and underlying earnings since 2008, driven by international growth and an investment splurge.
Results yesterday revealed that revenues grew 2.3 per cent to £40.9 billion and earnings were up 2.7 per cent to £11.6bn, boosted by operations in South Africa, Egypt and Turkey.
The UK-based group also said it has concluded its “Project Spring” investment programme, which has seen the world’s second-largest mobile phone operator invest £19bn on network upgrades.
Chief executive Vittorio Colao said: “This has been a year of strong execution for the group, returning to organic growth in both revenue and Ebitda [earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation] for the first time since 2008.
“We have now successfully concluded our Project Spring organic investment programme. This has transformed the quality of our technology, enhancing our customers’ experience and enabling us to expand our Enterprise services.”
Group service revenues increased 2.5 per cent in the fourth quarter as Germany and Italy returned to growth. On a pre-tax basis, Vodafone made a loss of £449 million.
Steve Clayton, head of equity research at Hargreaves Lansdown, said: “A return to growth in Germany and Italy has helped to offset the relatively flat picture in Europe overall. The UK remains a laggard, where Vodafone has seen its position marginalised by the likes of BT.
“Vodafone’s efforts are still not really translating into revenue growth. Project Spring came and went, with billions invested, but precious little evidence has so far emerged of revenues growing as a result.
“But it is not all bad news. Vodafone continues to pay a strong dividend and had investors reinvested those dividends over the last ten years, they would have enjoyed a double-digit annual return on their investment.”
He added: “Mobile is now as much about data as it is about calls, with data traffic up 66 per cent in the second half alone.
“Demand for data continues to grow strongly as data costs fall, network speed and connectivity improves, and smartphone size and picture quality continues to get better.”
Vodafone declared a final dividend per share of 7.77p, an increase of 2 per cent, giving total dividends per share of 11.45p.