The dark cloud that has been hanging over MTN for nearly three years is, by most accounts, finally starting to lift. On Thursday last week, when the group released a confident earnings report, the market was afforded the certainty it’s been waiting for. It remains to be seen, however, whether this will translate into a sustained recovery in the share price, and whether management has done enough to court the most bearish analysts. The mobile operator’s fall from grace in recent years is well known, thanks in part to a dramatic US$1.5bn fine in Nigeria for failing to disconnect unregistered Sim cards. The group also dropped the ball in its home market by letting its peers sprint ahead in terms of network quality — a slip-up that has cost MTN’s postpaid business dearly. As was expected, MTN, headed by CEO Rob Shuter, returned to profit in 2017, with a profit after tax of R4.5bn from a loss of R3.1bn in 2016. MTN’s shares rose 10.1% on the day the earnings report was released, winning ...

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