Inmarsat dips as its revenue growth slows

FTSE 100 satellite telecoms firm Inmarsat saw its shares tumble more than 13 per cent yesterday after warning of slower-than-expected growth in its core maritime business.

The firm told City A.M. uptake of its terminals was “very strong” but that revenue growth will take a temporary hit as customers switch from high-margin voice-calls to text messages and emails.

The dip meant revenue growth in the fourth-quarter fell to 8.4 per cent, compared to a full-year rise of 12.9 per cent. Chief executive and chairman Andrew Sukawaty says he expects data usage to rise exponentially and pick up the slack left by voice calls within two years.

The company posted pre-tax profits of $333.5m (£205m) on 13 per cent higher revenue of $1.17bn.

Analysts had hoped for growth of around four to six per cent in 2011 but the firm issued guidance for just two to four per cent.

Inmarsat said it has already received additional revenue of $212m from a deal with US telecoms provider LightSquared to provide spectrum for a hybrid satellite and terrestrial network, of which it has only booked $17m. It will receive an extra $115m a year through the partnership.

Inmarsat was a target of US hedge fund Harbinger, which snapped up a 28 per cent stake before selling it down last year to concentrate on its home market.