Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA
Vodacom CEO Shameel Joosub. Picture: FREDDY MAVUNDA

After a lean 2018 financial year in which dividends were cut slightly, Vodacom has raised the dividend for the first half of its 2019 financial year back to the same level it paid in 2017 and 2016.

Vodacom raising its interim by 5c to R3.95 contrasts with rival MTN, which cut its interim dividend by 30% to R1.75 from R2.50 as it battled to whittle down debt.

Vodacom reported on Monday morning that its overall interim revenue for the six months to end-September grew 1.7% to R42.7bn, and net profit grew 1.15% to R6.8bn.

Vodacom’s headline earnings per share (HEPS) growth was diluted to 0.5% following the issue of  114.5-million shares to facilitate a new black economic empowerment structure along with the issue of 233.5-million shares to UK parent Vodafone as part of its payment for 35% of Kenyan cellphone network Safaricom.

“Our strategic investment in Safaricom, concluded in the previous financial year, is exceeding our expectations having contributed R1.4bn to the Vodacom Group's operating profit,” CEO Shameel Joosub said in the results statement.

“In SA, underlying growth has weakened as the country’s economic slowdown increasingly weighs on consumer spending in the market. Still, service revenue rose 4.6% as anticipatory measures driven by the use of big data machine learning in more areas of the business has contributed to countering some of these pressures,” Joosub.

“The 2.5-million increase in customers in SA since March, shows that our sustained effort to deliver greater value is working across prepaid and contract and is evidence that our personalisation through big data is delivering results.”

laingr@businesslive.co.za