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Earnings

Mobile operator Vodafone cuts dividend to tackle debt burden

Key Points
  • Vodafone reported group revenue of 43.7 billion euros for the year to end-March, down 6.2 percent, with an operating loss of 951 million euros.
  • Adjusted core earnings rose 3.1 percent on an organic basis, in line with Vodafone's guidance and analyst expectations.
British multinational telecommunications corporation and phone operator, Vodafone, store seen in Spain. (Photo by Miguel Candela/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images)
Miguel Candela/SOPA Images | LightRocket | Getty Images

Vodafone slashed its dividend on Tuesday, reversing a pledge to maintain one of the biggest payouts in Britain so it can build 5G networks and complete its looming acquisition of Liberty Global assets.

The world's second largest mobile operator cut the full-year dividend to 9 eurocents a share from 15.07 eurocents in its financial 2018 year.

Chief Executive Nick Read said Vodafone achieved its guidance for the year, with growth in most markets. But it saw increased competition in Spain and Italy and headwinds in South Africa.

"These challenges weighed on our service revenue growth during the year, and together with high spectrum auction costs have reduced our financial headroom," he said.

"The Board has made the decision to rebase the dividend, helping us to reduce debt and delever to the low end of our target range in the next few years."

Vodafone reported group revenue of 43.7 billion euros for the year to end-March, down 6.2 percent, with an operating loss of 951 million euros.

Adjusted core earnings rose 3.1 percent on an organic basis, in line with Vodafone's guidance and analyst expectations.

For the 2020 financial year, Vodafone said it expected adjusted core earnings of 13.8 billion - 14.2 billion euros, implying low single digit organic growth, and free cash flow pre-spectrum of at least 5.4 billion euros.

CEO Read, in the job since October, said at the half year the dividend was affordable at the current levels and once the company deleverages back towards the lower end of its range, the board would consider returning to dividend-per-share growth.