Bharti Airtel NSE 3.60 % shares jumped as much as 13% in early trade Wednesday, a day after the Sunil Mittal-led telco narrowed its consolidated net loss to Rs 763 crore in the September quarter, posting record consolidated revenue boosted by the continued recovery of its India business.

India’s no. 2 telco saw its sixth straight quarterly loss after higher finance costs and a one-time charge. Revenue, though, at Rs 25,785 crore, was up 22% on-year in the July-September period, a seasoally weak quarter for the telecom sector.

The telco added 13.9 million users – the most in three quarters – aided by easing of lockdown curbs and with subscribers moved to higher-paying plans, helping to drive up average revenue per user (ARPU) to a three-year high of Rs 162, from Rs 157 in April-June.

Airtel shares were up nearly 8% at Rs 466.75 Wednesday mid-morning trade on BSE. BofA Securities said, "Airtel’s strong set of September quarter earnings numbers would be a catalyst for the telco’s share price, given that the business momentum remains strong”.

Edelweiss NSE 0.52 % said Bharti’s India “strong 4G subscriber addition momentum demonstrates high-value customers’ preference towards Airtel’s network which is driving higher ARPU”.

Brokerage UBS, in turn, said Airtel had managed to control churn at 1.7% (vs 2.2% in the June quarter), adding that the telco’s fixed broadband (FBB) segment too saw strong traction with revenues increasing 7.3% on-year, “aided by strong net adds of 129k (highest in many quarters)”.

The telco’s capex has also increased to Rs 6,790 crore from Rs 3,980 crore in the previous quarter with site count exceeding 200k, UBS added.

Operationally, Bharti Airtel’s India business continued to be strong. “We delivered a strong performance, with (India) revenue growing at around 22% on-year,” said Gopal Vittal, chief executive, Bharti Airtel, India, South Asia, on Tuesday. “Data consumption grew by 58% on-year, which reflects strong engagement of customers.”

Vittal said other lines of business continued with steady growth momentum, with Airtel business revenue growing 7.5% on-year.

Mobile services contributed about 73% of India quarterly revenue for Airtel, which also provides home broadband, direct-to-home and enterprise services in India.

“Our continued focus on ARPU improvement and cost optimization led to Ebitda margin expansion by over around 158 basis points sequentially,” said Vittal. Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (Ebitda) margin expanded to  to 46%, from 44.4% in the previous quarter.

Profit was affected by a 28% rise in net finance costs and a net exceptional charge of Rs 28.1 crore, related mainly to employee restructuring in one of the group’s businesses, the company said.

Market leader Reliance Jio and Vodafone Idea (Vi) are set to report their quarterly earnings later this week.

Airtel ended the quarter with 293.7 million users in India. On a consolidated basis, the company — with operations in 18 countries, including India, Sri Lanka and 14 African nations, and joint ventures in two more — had almost 440 million users.

Data usage per customer in India was 16.4 GB, compared with 16.7 GB in the preceding quarter, while voice minutes of usage rose to 1,005, from 994, as more people used mobile internet while working from home, experts said.

Airtel has paid over Rs 18,000 crore of its almost Rs 44,000 crore of AGR dues and needs to pay the rest in annual instalments by March 31, 2031. Bharti Airtel shares jumped nearly 13% a day after telco narrowed Sept quarter loss to Rs 763 crore.