Vodafone's latest results make grim reading for the company's investors, with revenues in established markets falling and subscribers drifting away despite the firm's 4G investments.
The British mobe operator's service revenues fell in Europe by 9.6 per cent and was only partially offset by gains in India and Turkey.
The group ended 2013 booking £10.97bn in revenue of which £9.856bn was service revenue in the final quarter, leaving it with £1bn free cash.
Overall group revenue fell by 4.8 per cent quarter-on-quarter. Vodafone blamed EU regulators and the slump for its European doldrums.
UK revenue was down 5.1 per cent, in Germany by 7.9 per cent and Spain and Italy the fall was well into the teens. The Australian operation, a joint venture with Hutchison, saw revenue fall by 8 per cent.
In the UK Voda has 19.3m subscribers, down around 100,000 net, with 40.5 per cent on prepaid. Only around 370,000 are on 4G however, compared to EE's 2m LTE customers.
The sale of the group's 45 per cent stake in Verizon gives the mobe giant a pile of cash - $130bn, or around £84bn. But it isn't splurging it all on the network: around £50bn is being returned to investors. It's also spending £7bn on an upgrade program it calls 'Project Spring', although that's largely made up of in-place upgrades from 3G to 4G.
The amount of capex was £1.8bn, up a little from £1.5bn a year ago. Telco analyst Keith McMahon laid into the firm via Twitter:
4G investment, despite hype, is just maintenace Capex - serving users and apps demand for more bandwidth without adding value to MNOs— Keith McMahon (@KeithJamesMc) February 6, 2014
There is no other way to explain it, but Vodafone's results are terrible, especially given the explosion in mobile data...— Keith McMahon (@KeithJamesMc) February 6, 2014
Voda's debts, including joint ventures, stand at £31.5bn. Without the JVs it's still riding high at £29.8bn.
AT&T and Softbank have been touted as potential buyers for Vodafone - if only for the cash. You can hop over to this PDF for a country-by-country breakdown. ®