Du's profit soars 33% on record revenue driven by adoption of generative AI in operations

The telecoms operator's board has recommended a 41.7% increase in full-year dividend

Du is competing in a telecoms environment in which new technology is being integrated as consumers seek faster connectivity on the go. Leslie Pableo / The National
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Emirates Integrated Telecommunications Company, better known as du, has reported a 33 per cent increase in its 2023 net profit on the back of record revenue amid the introduction of generative artificial intelligence in its operations.

Net profit attributable to shareholders of the telecoms operator in the 12 months ended December 31, 2023, stood at Dh1.65 billion ($449.2 million), du said on Tuesday in a regulatory filing to the Dubai Financial Market, where its shares are traded.

Revenue increased by about 7 per cent annually to Dh13.64 billion, from Dh12.75 billion a year earlier, “highlighting sustained demand for mobile services, and strong growth in postpaid and fixed services”, the company said.

“The robust macroeconomic environment and our strong commercial momentum [have] enabled us to achieve significant milestones and excellent financial results,” its chairman Malek Al Malek said.

The company's board has recommended an increase of 41.7 per cent to du's full-year dividend, taking it to Dh0.34 per share, out of which 13 fils a share was paid out in August as an interim dividend.

This will be equivalent to a 100 per cent distribution of net profit “after appropriation for statutory reserves”, Mr Al Malek said.

Revenue from the company's mobile services segment rose by 6.2 per cent annually to Dh6.1 billion while fixed services revenue grew by 8.6 per cent to Dh3.78 billion.

Other revenue increased by 6.4 per cent to Dh3.77 billion.

Full-year earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation jumped 12.8 per cent to Dh5.8 billion, reflecting “top-line growth combined with margin expansion and disciplined cost management”.

For the fourth quarter of 2023, du's net profit soared 38.5 per cent year on year to Dh396 million, as revenue climbed by 7.3 per cent to Dh3.56 billion.

The Dubai-based telecoms operator plans to maintain its strategic course, “doubling up” on key segments as it works to secure another record financial year by the end of 2024, chief executive Fahad Al Hassawi told The National in an interview on Tuesday.

“We don't see a lot of deviation from our strategy … and it's paying off. The results are showing how we are able to extract value, focusing on the right segments,” he said.

“We continue to extract value from almost all our segments, especially in consumer and enterprise, and we are doubling up on the premium consumer segment.”

Du's share price settled unchanged on Tuesday at Dh5.80 before its earnings release.

The company plans to maintain its capital expenditure intensity and expects “excellent results to continue in 2024", Mr Al Hassawi said.

Du has been stepping up efforts to grow its customer base and boosting its services to compete in a telecoms environment in which new technology is being integrated as consumers seek faster connectivity on the go.

At last year's Gitex Global in Dubai, Mr Al Hassawi told The National that du was working with major technology companies to help push generative AI into mainstream consumer services.

On Tuesday, he said du had started implementing the popular technology “within the company”, helping “serve our customers and improve the efficiency of our operations”.

Du is “extending these capabilities to our customers”, said Mr Al Hassawi without elaborating.

The company is working with top AI players, including Microsoft, the biggest backer of ChatGPT creator OpenAI.

“AI will drastically change telecoms. That will change the way we serve customers [and] pre-empt needed maintenance or faults in our system by being able to do a lot of proactive actions before even the customer feels the issue,” he said.

“It's definitely doing a major change … and we expect customer behaviour as well to change, in the way they consume our product and our services. AI is one of the biggest transformations and changes in the market.”

Updated: February 13, 2024, 5:29 PM