VODAFONE is on the verge of staging a recovery. In Europe, things are finally improving, with service revenue in the UK turning positive, increasing by 1.4 per cent since the firm finally started selling Apple’s iPhone (what a shame it took so long). If the iPad is a hit in the UK, and early signs suggest it will be, then that increase could become sharper still.
Germany is also stabilising, with service revenues down 1.8 per cent this quarter, against a steeper fall of 5.9 per cent in the previous three months. Cost cuts of around £1bn are bolstering the bottom line, while free cash flow is forecast to rise from £6.5bn to £7bn next year, with capital expenditure staying flat. Still, it’s not all plain sailing. Margins in Spain, one of the biggest users of mobile phones, are off slightly. And much of the revenue growth is coming from data, which is priced far too cheaply considering the huge costs of upgrading tired networks.
The £2.3bn write-down in India suggests too-high costs are being squirreled away as one-offs, a situation that is clearly untenable. That means the mobile giant’s recovery is only nascent. Investors that think the turnaround has legs should buy while its cheap.