Mobile operator MTN’s share price ended the day lower despite announcing that it was expecting to report annual earnings at least 20% higher. File Photo: IOL

JOHANNESBURG – Mobile operator MTN’s share price ended the day lower despite announcing on Monday that it was expecting to report annual earnings at least 20 percent higher. The share price ended the day 2.54 percent lower at R85.86 on the JSE yesterday.

For the 12 months ended December 2018 the telecoms operator, which has been battling Nigerian woes, said headline earnings per share would improve 36.4 cents from the current 182c per share. Earnings per share are expected to improve by 49.2c attributable earnings per share from 246c for the prior financial year.

The group did not give more detail on its expectations. MTN said it expected to publish its results on Thursday.

Ruhan du Plessis, an analyst at Avior Capital Markets, said yesterday that the market had an expectation of the 20 percent improvement in performance, but that there was as yet little detail.

“The share price was affected by a general sell-off in the market. Remember that the shares are starting off a low base. There is nothing that happened that would be attributed to the low performance of the group on the day," he said. MTN’s Nigerian subsidiary is due in court this week over a disputed $2 billion (R26.6bn) it is alleged to owe in taxes.

Meanwhile, MTN yesterday announced the appointment of a new group executive for corporate affairs, Nompilo Morafo, to be responsible for managing MTN’s reputation in the marketplace through the strategic co-ordination of corporate communication, sustainability, events and sponsorships and corporate social investment functions across the company’s footprint.

Last week, MTN announced that it would be slashing its out-of-bundle data rate by up to 75 percent for prepaid customers.

BUSINESS REPORT