Vodafone Group PLC Earnings Call Nuggets: Dividend Announcement Timing and United Kingdom Analysis
Vodafone Group PLC (NASDAQ:VOD) recently reported its fourth quarter earnings and discussed the following topics in its earnings conference call.
Dividend Announcement Timing
William Power – Robert W. Baird: So I guess the first question is, I’d be interested in any commentary you could provide around the timing of the latest dividend announcement. Is this something we perhaps expect to occur twice a year going forward? What was the principal driver, I guess, around the timing of the latest dividend from Verizon? The second question, I guess I’d be interested in any commentary you can provide on the competitive environment. In Germany the subscriber growth has been under some pressure there the last couple of quarters. What’s the opportunity to turn things around in that market?
Andy Halford – CFO: So two questions; the Verizon Wireless dividend timing. I think Verizon have always said that they would be good custodians of the cash in the Verizon Wireless business, i.e., they would not let it accumulate unnecessarily, and clearly the cash balance was starting to rise. So hence why the dividend has come out now. I guess it is a little bit nearer to the last dividend in time terms, which itself was closer to the one before. So the frequency has slightly increased, but underlying the key thing, I think, really is the business continues to generate roughly 1.25 billion of cash per month. Clearly, Verizon are keen that what is not needed in the business will be returned to shareholders, and we were very happy to receive our share of the $7 billion, will be (indiscernible) when it arrives next month. Germany; market there I think is still reasonably robust. Clearly, we have got a very significant presence in the mobile space, and it is that one market in Europe where we pressed on with LTE the earliest of any of our markets, and we’re gaining of good traction on that front. So, I think a combination of pressing on with LTA, the Red price plans and propositions that are going into the market, and also Germany pushing very hard now on smartphones that probably have or had a lower proportion based on smartphones than some of our other big markets, but are now catching up on the front. So, I think as we look forward, hopefully all of those will start to bear fruit.
United Kingdom Analysis
Allan Nichols – Morningstar: On Cable & Wireless Worldwide, you talked about that it was significant increase for Northern and Central Europe, but it didn’t seem to have much of an impact on the U.K. which was a little surprising, 40% of their business is in the U.K. Can you talk about why that wasn’t there and what are the weaknesses in the U.K. that caused the numbers to be down so much there?
Andy Halford – CFO: First of all, Allan, remember that we only bought Cable and Wireless part way through the year. So, we have got sort of a part year contribution for it from the business. Secondly, when we do the organic calculations, we will exclude businesses that have not been with us for both the current and the previous years and hence Cable & Wireless is excluded from the organic growth calculations. But overall, Cable & Wireless is not as we expected it, so in terms of its ongoing revenues and profitability, it is very much in line with its recent past. What has been, I think, encouraging is the process of integrating it and spending some money to get its network more integrated is progressing well, and we remain very confident of the commitment to get GBP150 million to GBP200 million pounds of cash synergy out of the business in the next three years or so remains very much on track.