Vodafone turns in record £13.5 bn loss

And the investors cheer up...

Mobile phone giant Vodafone lost a whopping £13.5 billion in the last year in what is believed to be the UK's biggest-ever corporate loss.

The monster pre-tax loss includes a £6 billion charge for investments that have lost value as a result in the fallout in the telecoms sector.

Despite these one-off charges Vodafone maintains things are looking up and reckons it will still be able to deliver double-digit growth.

Turnover for the year to March 31 increased by 52 per cent from £15 billion to £22.8 billion.

Operating profit before exceptional items increased 35 per cent to £7 billion from £5.2 billion.

Non-voice service revenues continued to rise up from 8.1 per cent to 11.1 per cent of turnover.

Vodafone reckons this trend will continue with data revenues expected to reach 20 per cent of tunover in 2004.

Commenting on the results chief exec, Sir Christopher Gent, said: "The past year has seen the group successfully execute its adjusted strategy, delivering very strong operational performance and exceptional financial results, including the generation of substantial free cash flow.

"In the current year, we envisage net customer growth of just below 10 per cent, allowing for the expected disconnections of non-revenue generating handsets, and a modest but real improvement in ARPU (average revenue per user) in most of our major European markets.

"This combination should lead to double-digit revenue growth."

By mid morning shares in Vodafone were up 4p (3.8 per cent) at 109p. ®

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