Will IHS Holdings ever be profitable?
Telco infrastructure

Recently, I wrote about Nigeria’s top telecommunication infrastructure company—IHS Holdings, following a downgrade in its credit ratings by Moody’s.

The 21-year-old company's core business is to provide shared telecommunication infrastructure services (like masts and towers), primarily to mobile network operators (MNOs) like MTN and Airtel.
 

Key takeaways:

  1. Despite a solid cashflow position, IHS isn’t profitable as it is yet to declare annual net profits.

  2. However, due to the economic downturn and tech winter, investor expectations are changing towards profits or, at least, losing less money.

  3. IHS’ losses are due to external factors like higher global interest rates and exchange rate volatility. When these external conditions improve, they should translate into net profits for the company.

 

By taking the burden of costly tower infrastructures off the MNOs, IHS has undoubtedly contributed to the growth of the telecom industry. IHS enables MNOs to focus on expanding their coverage and delivering voice and data services. This value addition is evident in the telecom industry’s contribution to GDP, from about 1% in 2001 to 15% as of Q2’22.
 


However, IHS has had a rough time operating in Nigeria. After the publication of my article, which examined Moody’s basis for the credit downgrade, IHS released its Q3’22 results and announced it did not repatriate any cash out of Nigeria during the quarter. As of September 2022, the tower company (towerco) had about $98 million of its earnings in Nigeria. 

Nonetheless, after combing through the towerco’s cash flow statement, we saw that IHS maintained a healthy net cash flow position (over $500 million), a strong indicator of the company’s health. 

As a result, our fears were slightly alleviated as we concluded that IHS could still support its operations in the medium term (2-3 years).

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Yomi Ajayi

Yomi Ajayi

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