Etisalat is a multinational telecommunications service provider with main offices based in Abu Dhabi. The corporation operates in nearly 20 countries in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa (Everington, 2017). According to 2018 statistics, Etisalat has a client base of 144 million people, a figure that makes it the dominant telecommunications provider globally, although nearly 13 million customers are from the UAE (Abbas, 2018).
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Wide network coverage has enabled the organization to generate high profits consistently over a long period. As a result, outstanding financial performance has resulted in the company’s increased investments in telecommunications infrastructure. By the end of 2016, more than 85% of households had access to a home fiber-optic network in the UAE after Etisalat’s prodigious investments in the technology (Everington, 2017). In addition to providing voice carrier services, the company offers other telecommunications products. Currently the largest dealer for mobile phones in the UAE, the firm also provides Internet services to institutions, businesses, and households.
Currently, as discussed in this paper, Etisalat UAE exhibits remarkable financial strength and a strong balance sheet. Thus, assessing financial performance over the last five years will help to identify its prevailing strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats, which will be examined later in this paper. As indicated in the SWOT analysis section, outstanding performance makes the company vulnerable to financial risks pertaining to increasing shareholders’ value. Overall, the financial appraisal presented in this paper depicts Etisalat UAE as performing admirably with the potential to achieve a higher growth rate in the future.
Five-Year Financial Performance for Etisalat UAE
Etisalat UAEs modern telecommunications systems have enabled the company to become a global leader in the information technology sector. The firm enjoys a market capitalization of AED 156 billion, making it the most profitable company in the UAE outside of the oil and petroleum industry. In 2016, the business generated a net profit of AED 8.4 billion and net revenue of AED 52.4 billion, indicating strong financial performance (Abbas, 2018).
These two figures, profit and net revenue, were the highest compared to previous years, enabling this corporation to achieve a remarkable credit rating of AA-/Aa3. The financial performance of any organization relies on three key measures: profitability, debt repayment capacity, and efficiency (Zorn, Esteves, Baur, & Lips, 2018). Measuring a company’s financial status helps to establish the consistency of its growth over time. Steady performance attracts investors to the business.
The ultimate goal of a business is to maximize profits after making use of factors of production at the least cost. The four principal measures of profitability focus on revenues, expenses, and profit relative to available capital. Investors and other third parties such as the government and the public will assess the success of a company based on its ability to generate profit consistently over a long period. According to Etisalat UAE’s 2017Annual Report, the four return-based measures of profitability include return on assets (ROA), return on equity (ROE), operating profit margins, and net income (Annual Reports, 2018).
Return on assets is essential for assessing Etisalat’s financial status. From the analysis given in Figure 1, the company has been reporting a positive return on assets over the selected five-year period. This positive return on assets indicates that revenue is higher than expenses. Consequently, the business is making a profit. However, in 2016, Etisalat UAE witnessed a decline in profits, an indication that other factors—for instance, government policies—were affecting its finances (Everington, 2017). In 2017, a significant increase in the ratio was observed, implying that the financial challenges in the previous year were responding to the control of the business management team.
|Net Income |
|Total Expenses |
|Return on Assets(ROA)||0.2340||0.2615||0.2291||0.1502||0.3020|
Fig. 1. Etisalat UAE’s ROA (Annual Reports, 2018).
As Figure 2 shows, calculating the ROE for the period 2013 to 2017 requires net profit figures and the average shareholder equity data for the respective years.
|Net Profit |
|Average Shareholder’s Equity |
|Return on Equity(ROE)||0.1427||0.2013||0.1766||0.1187||0.2314|
Fig. 2. Etisalat UAE’s ROE (Annual Reports, 2018).
According to Cunningham, Nikolai, and Bazley (2010), the return on equity is the most essential measure that investors use to assess business growth. Shareholders are interested in businesses that display a guaranteed ROI over an extended period. From the above data, Etisalat UAE has been exhibiting a positive ROE ratio over the last five years. However, the ratio has been inconsistent, indicating that investors need to evaluate the competence of the management and the viability of investment decisions. The drop in ROE observed between 2014 and 2016 is a clear signal that Etisalat UAE has had financial challenges that could have been triggered by the prevailing economic situation in the United Arab Emirates or alternatively by the nature of the company’s internal operations.
To obtain Etisalat’s operating profit margins, figures related to its operating profit and total revenue must be considered as shown in Figure 3.
|Operating Profit |
|Total Revenue |
|Operating Profit Margin||0.2162||0.2093||0.2188||0.2209||0.2209|
Fig. 3. Etisalat UAE’s operating profit margins (Annual Reports, 2018).
Operating profit margin is an important measure of business performance. This number helps investors determine whether a company has effective control of expenses related to its growth in revenue. The analysis shows that Etisalat UAE has been recording growth in terms of profits and revenue. Additionally, its operating profit margin has been growing steadily, an indication that the business exerts efficient control over expenditures.
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Debt Repayment Capacity
An organization should be capable of financing debts without affecting normal business operations to achieve reasonable growth. According to Zorn et al. (2018), the accrual net income of a company determines its debt repayment capacity. In addition, this capability depends on prevailing profitability levels that guarantee the long-term survival of a given organization. Therefore, a corporation should have a steady net income growth rate and profits to achieve the recommended debt repayment capacity. The most common measure of debt repayment capacity is the debt service coverage ratio as calculated in Figure 4.
This ratio requires two key figures: the net operating income and the total debt service. According to Etisalat UAE’s 2017Annual Report, the business has exhibited a steady debt service ratio for the last four years (Annual Reports, 2018). In 2013, the ratio was 1.1, indicating the existence of low-profit income in relation to liabilities. However, the number declined in 2014 and remained steady until 2017. Therefore, Etisalat UAE is in a better position to meet its debt obligations without disrupting the company’s normal operations.
|Net Operating Income |
|Total Debt Service |
|Debt Service Coverage Ratio||1.1||0.9||0.9||0.9||0.9|
Fig. 4. Etisalat’s debt service coverage ratio (Annual Reports, 2018).
Financial efficiency is an essential tool for appraising the performance position of an organization. According to Zhitlukhina et al. (2016), financial efficiency reveals a company’s degree of effectiveness in using available resources such as labor, management, and capital to meet critical financial obligations. Assessing Etisalat UAE’s financial efficiency for the last half decade requires several measures, including its asset turnover ratio, operating expense ratio, depreciation expense ratio, and interest expense ratio. To determine Etisalat UAE’s asset turnover ratio for the period 2013 to 2017, it is necessary to calculate its revenue and average total assets as shown in Figure 5.
|Total Revenue |
|Total Average Assets||85,160,840||107,650,046||128,186,982||124,890,877||125,402,384|
|Asset Turnover Ratio||0.4562||0.4530||0.4036||0.4192||0.4120|
Fig. 5. Etisalat UAE’s asset turnover ratio (Annual Reports, 2018).
Asset turnover ratio determines whether a company can satisfy financial requirements by liquidating all assets. According to the above data, Etisalat UAE has displayed a positive asset turnover ratio for the last five years. This figure has decreased from 0.4562 in 2013to 0.4120 in 2017 (Annual Reports, 2018). The decline in this ratio is a sign that Etisalat UAE’s assets have been increasing at a higher rate in relation to its revenue.
The operating expense ratio reveals the quality of financial management in the company. This quotient is the value obtained after dividing Etisalat’s operating expenses by available revenue. Figure 6 shows the operating ratio for Etisalat UAE over the five-year period under consideration.
|Operating Expense |
|Total Revenue |
|Operating Expense Ratio||0.6357||0.6528||0.6388||0.6312||0.6433|
Fig. 6. Etisalat UAE’s operating expense ratio (Annual Reports, 2018).
From the above analysis, Etisalat UAE’s operating expense ratio has been consistent. Therefore, it is possible that this corporation has been relying on the same financial management strategy over the last five years, suggesting effective mechanisms for controlling operating expenses.
The depreciation expense ratio determines the effectiveness of an organization’s financial administration. Depreciation expenses are related to assets. Thus, they need to be controlled. The depreciation expense ratio is calculated by dividing depreciation expense by total revenue. From the analysis shown in Figure 7, the company’s depreciation expense ratio has been steady despite an observed growth in revenues (Annual Reports, 2018). The contrast between revenue growth and sluggishness in depreciation expense indicates that Etisalat UAE is not relying heavily on assets to satisfy financial obligations.
|Depreciation Expense |
|Total Revenue |
|Depreciation Expense Ratio||0.1000||0.1059||0.1129||0.1126||0.1094|
Fig. 7. Depreciation expense ratio (Annual Reports, 2018).
The interest expense ratio is the value obtained after dividing a company’s interest expenses by total revenue. A company’s interest expense ratio indicates the extent to which the organization relies on debts to satisfy its financial requirements. From the analysis shown in Figure 8, Etisalat UAE seems to exhibit sluggish growth in terms of this ratio despite growing revenues over the five-year period (Annual Reports, 2018). Therefore, during this period, Etisalat UAE has not relied heavily on debts to realize its financial demands.
|Interest Expense |
|Total Revenue |
|Interest Expense Ratio||0.0118||0.0356||0.0234||0.0279||0.0267|
Fig. 8.Etisalat UAE’s interest expense ratio (Annual Reports, 2018).
The net income from operations ratio measures the degree to which business operations generate revenue. From the analysis given in Figure 9, Etisalat UAE has been recording a steady net income from operations ratio, indicating that the company is capable of generating profits.
|Net Income from Operations Ratio||0.3741||0.3187||0.3359||0.3166||0.3378|
Fig. 9. Net income from operations ratio (Annual Reports, 2018)
Analysis of Income Statements and Balance Sheets
Analyzing the income statements and balance sheets of Etisalat UAE for the five-year period under consideration establishes whether its assets, liabilities, and investors’ equity reflect the prevailing economic situation (Murphy, 2018). The main objective of assessing income statements and balance sheets is to identify a company’s financial status in a given period as well as its ability to service debts without disrupting day-to-day activities. According to the income statement for the five-year period, Etisalat UAE has been recording increased net income. Revenue reported in 2017 was almost double the figure realized in 2013. Although expenses have been increasing from 2013, Etisalat has managed to control their rate of increment as shown in Figure 10.
|Net Income |
|Total Expenses |
Fig. 10. Etisalat UAE’s income statement (Annual Reports, 2018).
Information presented in a balance sheet reveals the value of a business in relation to assets and capital growth, including the company’s solvency and liquidity status (Murphy, 2018).Business worth is highly dependent on the nature of a particular industry and prevailing economic conditions. As shown in Figure 11, Etisalat UAE’s value denotes the difference between total assets and liabilities in the period 2013 to 2017.
|Total Assets at the End of the Year |
|Total Liabilities |
|Etisalat UAE’s Value||49,592,696||60,926,871||59,375,099||55,914,778||57,703,975|
Fig. 11. Etisalat UAE’s value (Annual Reports, 2018).
According to the above balance sheet data, Etisalat UAE’s large size and its diverse operations have resulted in unsteady value. The organization’s worth seems to vary based on the existing economic and industry position. From the previous analysis of return on equity, the decrease between 2015 and 2016 is reflected on the above balance sheet data, indicating a declining value for Etisalat UAE during those two years (Annual Reports, 2018). Hence, the balance sheet effectively represents the economic situation of Etisalat UAE.
Solvency measures the ability of a business to finance debts if all assets are liquidated. Specifically, this figure reveals a company’s debt in relation to its equity. Risk managers assess solvency to determine the ability of a business to withstand a major financial disaster. Companies such as Etisalat use this indicator as a risk management tool. Unlike liquidity, solvency considers both short-term and long-term assets and liabilities because the goal is to assess the ability of a company to settle all debts after selling assets. Three financial ratios—the debt-asset ratio, the equity-asset ratio, and the debt-equity ratio—are needed when calculating a company solvency status.
Figure 12shows Etisalat UAE’s debt-asset ratio in a five-year period.
Debt-asset ratio= total liabilities/total assets.
|Total Liabilities |
|Total Assets AED’000||85,715,534||129,584,558||128,264,547||122,546,345||128,284,105|
Fig. 12. Etisalat UAE’s debt-asset ratio (Annual Reports, 2018).
From the above analysis, Etisalat UAE displays strong financial performance as indicated by its debt-asset ratio. This company has recorded growth in its debt-asset ratio from 0.4214 in 2012 to 0.5502 in 2017 (Annual Reports, 2018). Therefore, the company has the capability of offsetting all liabilities if assets were to be liquidated.
The equity-asset ratio is the most significant measure of financial performance for any business. Business owners are interested in knowing whether a company can make returns on investments. The equity-asset ratio equals total equity/total assets. From the analysis shown in Figure 13, Etisalat UAE has been reporting a positive equity-asset ratio in the five-year period under discussion. However, this value has shown a decrease from 0.5786 in 2013 to 0.4499 in 2017 (Annual Reports, 2018). This decline indicates unsteady growth in assets for Etisalat UAE compared to owners’ equity.
|Total Equity |
|Total Assets AED’000||85,715,534||129,584,558||128,264,547||122,546,345||128,284,105|
Fig. 13. Etisalat UAE’s equity-asset ratio (Annual Reports, 2018).
The debt-equity ratio determines the performance of a business over a given period. This figure measures the capacity of an organization to use all available resources without relying heavily on debts to meet financial requirements. Owners’ equity is one of the fundamental sources of financing. Figure 14shows Etisalat UAE’s debt-equity ratio, calculated by dividing total liabilities by total equity.
|Total Liabilities |
|Total Equity |
Fig. 14. Etisalat UAE’s debt-equity ratio (Annual Reports, 2018).
A result having a value of less than 1 indicates that equity is higher compared to debts. From the above analysis, Etisalat UAE had a debt-equity ratio of 0.7284 in 2013, which indicates that the company was operating with minimal liabilities. However, the debt level rose by more than 100% in 2014 (Annual Reports, 2018), revealing the extent of financial problems the organization experienced during this period to the extent of relying on debts.
According to Cunningham et al. (2010), measuring liquidity helps management to establish whether a particular business can fulfill its financial duties without disrupting daily operations. Thetwo measures of liquidity include working capital and current ratio.Etisalat UAE’s working capital, shown in Figure 15, denotes the difference between total current assets and total current liabilities.
|Current Assets AED’000||28,197,405||37,641,214||41,680,494||44,357,681||47,019,595|
|Current Liabilities |
Fig. 15. Etisalat UAE’s working capital (Annual Reports, 2018).
Etisalat UAE reported increased working capital over the five-year period under consideration. However, the above analysis shows that the company witnessed a decline in 2014, which could have resulted from factors beyond the business’s control (Annual Reports, 2018). The huge drop, amounting to 2,329,649, reported in 2014 reveals a situation whereby the business management team did not have sufficient control as evidenced by the significant increase of 664,032 recorded in the following period. The drop ended in 2016 when the company regained a positive working capital, indicating the capability of meeting financial demands without affecting normal operations.
SWOT Analysis of Etisalat UAE
Etisalat UAE has a strong financial position. The five-year analysis of its financial performance, income statements, and balance sheets presented in the previous sections can confirm this claim. As a result, this organization is strategically placed to fulfill its financial requirements without disrupting normal operations. From the analysis of the five-year period, Etisalat UAE’s operating income is sufficient to service its debts (Annual Reports, 2018).
This corporation’s capacity to manage debts using operating income reveals the existence of sufficient reserve capital that can be directed to investments and expansion of its operations. The observed remarkable financial status enables Etisalat UAE to develop the necessary strategies to attain a competitive edge in the telecommunications industry. The company’s strong financial situation is an indication that this organization has a competitive management team. For example, as revealedin the above analysis, Etisalat UAEhas managed to recover from the plunge experienced between 2014 and 2016 (Everington, 2017).
This ability to overcome a financial problem is attributable to an experienced administrative team. Hence, this category of Etisalat UAE’s human resources informed the company’s decision to implement well-researched strategies for adapting to economic, political, and technologicalchanges in the telecommunications sector.
Moreover, Etisalat UAE operates multiple businesses in different industries. Having diverse business operations helps the management to spread risks. In the contemporary world, large organizations such as Etisalat UAE tend to establish numerous businesses in different locations around the world. According to Craig (2015), this strategy helps globalized companies to overcome competition as well as economic and internal risks.
As a result, the organizations are able toincrease revenue streams. In situations where some businesses experience a downturn due to economic conditions, revenues from other areas serve to cushion those companies from the effects of losses. Having different operational businesses has enabled Etisalat UAE to innovate and manufacture items that match clients’ prevailing tastes and preferences in the technology sector. According to Haseeb (2018), the company enjoys a huge client base because of its constant “Internet, mobile, corporate data, voice, and roaming services” (para. 2).
In addition, the firm’s capacity to rely on technology to produce unique commodities has enabled itto adapt to new changes in the economy and industry. According to Craig (2015), to benefit frominnovative technologies, Etisalat UAEhas invested heavily in aninventive management team that has been quick to respond to changes in the business environment. Furthermore, innovation is leading to the identification of other ventures aimed at boosting the company’s revenue levels. Overall, Etisalat UAE’s continued outstanding performance and profitability as reported by Abbas (2018) is attributable to its novel administrative team.
Etisalat UAE has recorded an inconsistent return on equity ratio over the last five years. The company has been unable to woo investors who are usually interested in firms that depict a high degree of certainty that investments will have attractive returns in the future. Currently, Etisalat UAE appears to be weak, a situation that has been accompanied by reduced share prices and may lead to the dumping of stocks (Everington, 2017).
In addition, unpredictable return on equity indicates poor investment decisions, which have been reported in this company. Specifically, Etisalat UAE’s management team has been unable to address economic and industrial challenges that have had temporary effects on its return on equity. Therefore, as Everington (2017) has implied, over the last five years, the company’s executive has contributed significantly to the abovementioned weakness due to a failure to identify investment opportunities with high returns on equity.
Despite its position as the leading telecommunications operator in the UAE, Etisalat has demonstrated the weakness of being slow to adopt the latest technologies. In comparison, other telecommunications companies have implemented new technologies such as money transfer systems with a view to remaining competitive and consequently profitable. Etisalat UAE has yet to venture into money business operations that can allow customers to carry out transactions through their mobile phones (Haseeb, 2015). The failure to deploy modern technologiesmay result in Etisalat’s rivals taking over the telecommunications sector.
The lack of innovativeness that characterizes the company’s management team reveals why Etisalat UAE has not been quick to react to technological changes. Tech-savvy companies take risks, including seizing innovative ideas and new markets, as a way of remaining competitive in their respective sectors. In this case, Etisalat’s failure to act promptly in the face of technological changes may result in reduced sales because present-day customers are interested in up-to-date products such as mobile phones (Haseeb, 2015). Moreover, the company may experience turnover among employees, especially those who wish to join rival firms to develop their talents and professions.
According to Gürel and Merba (2017), socio-economic developments in a country indicate potential investment prospects. As a result, the fastest-growing economies in Africa, the Middle East, and Asia have the potential to provide good opportunities for Etisalat UAE’s investments (Haseeb, 2015). Another opportunity entails the ever-expanding market for mobile technology companies that offer high-speed Internet and quality voice services at reasonable costs.
Etisalat UAE may wish to venture into these markets because it has the ability to serve technology fans satisfactorily. In addition, technological advancements have led to the creation of business opportunities, for instance, through innovative products. Etisalat UAE has adopted a fiber-optic network to provide high-speed Internet to institutions and home users. However,new technologies have created numerous opportunities. For example, this company can draw on its strong financial base to deploy valuable approaches such as using satellites to provide Internet to customers (Haseeb, 2015). These latest cost-effective technologies will make Etisalat UAE competitive.
Foreign exchange poses a significant risk to the profitability of many businesses, including Etisalat UAE (Gürel & Merba, 2017). The company is a multinational business with subsidiaries operating in different economic environments. Each country has itsown unique economic policies that affect profitability levels due tothe difficulties associated with predicting foreign exchange rates. Therefore, Etisalat UAE cannot project finances without accounting for the risks that accompany this process. Competition emerging from the invention of appealing commodities by rivals is a major threat to Etisalat UAE (Haseeb, 2015).
Gürel and Merba (2017) present competition as the most significant risk to the survival of businesses. Currently, Etisalatdoes not face stiff competition in the UAE. This company has made huge investments in mobile technology and Internet communications. However, the business is not immune to competition from emerging organizations within and outside the UAE related to changes in technological advancements and the nature of the industry (Haseeb, 2015). Substantial investments pose the risk of price competition. The latest technology in Internet service provision using satellites instead of fiber-optic cables is making room for new entrants into the UAE market. Consequently, Etisalat will have to lower prices, a move that may lead to reduced profits.
Based on the expositions made in this paper, Etisalat UAE enjoys a strong financial base. The company has been reporting steady growth and profitability over the last five years. This growth can be attributed to the organization’s expansion to different economies in Asia, the Middle East, and Africa. Emerging economies in the region offer great opportunities for further expansion of this company. Operating multiple businesses in mobile and Internet service technologies has helped Etisalat UAE to diversify risks. However, the organization has failed to make constant returns on equity in the last half decade.
As revealed in this paper,the lack of consistent ROEs may be caused byfluctuations in economic conditions in general andin the telecommunications industry in particular. However, such changes have exerted only temporary effects on the return on equity. Therefore, it is possible that the witnessed unpredictable ROEs have been the result of poor investment decisions on the part of the management team. Investing in an innovative administrativeteam that is quick to adopt new products and technologies may be a wise move by Etisalat UAE. The company has a large capital base that can facilitate the implementation of this strategy, which, in turn, guarantees increased profits and competitiveness within and outside the UAE.
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