Vodafone is winning the telecommunications rat race when it comes to the rate of signing on more mobile customers.

Spark, New Zealand's largest telecommunications company, had 2.458 million mobile customers at June 30, an increase of 2.8 per cent from the same time a year earlier, while Vodafone had 2.578m mobile customers - an increase of 3.7 per cent.

Spark had 700,000 broadband customers as at June 30, up 1.9 per cent while Vodafone had 428,000, an increase of 0.7 per cent.

Spark's profit falls

Net profit for Spark New Zealand fell to $385m in the year to June 30, down 7.9 per cent from $418m a year earlier.


This was 2.9 per cent below the average of what analysts were expecting, according to Bloomberg.

New Zealand's largest telecommunications company, which released its result today, posted a profit of $989m before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, down 2.7 per cent from last year's annual result.

The decline in annual profit included an additional $49m of costs in adopting an Agile working structure. Stripping out those restructuring costs, earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation rose 2.2 per cent to $1.04 billion on a 1 per cent gain in revenue to $3.65 billion.

At June 30, Spark had 5507 employees, down 4.6 per cent from the same time the year before following restructures.

Despite the drop in annual earnings, chief executive Simon Moutter said Spark would be able to make money from the Rugby World Cup and Premier League football rights.

Earlier in the month Spark announced it had secured the exclusive rights to the English Premier League for three years. The deal adds to its growing sports portfolio, which includes the Rugby World Cup 2019 and Women's Rugby World Cup 2021.

It also secured the rights to Manchester United TV, a channel owned by the football club, which will be offered on a subscription basis and launch early 2019.

Moutter said sports content was crucial to Spark's media strategy.


"We are also disciplined when it comes to our investments in this area and are only looking to secure content that can give us a commercial return," he said.

"We believe we've achieved that with the high-quality content we've secured to date."

Spark had 350,000 customers signed up to Lightbox at June 30.

The board declared a final dividend of 12.5 cents per share, made up of an 11 cent ordinary dividend and a 1.5 cent special dividend. The dividend will be paid on October 5 with a record date of September 21, and takes the annual return to 25 cents.

Spark gave guidance for ebitda of $1.03 billion to $1.06b in the 2019 financial year on revenue of between $3.6b and $3.67b. It expects to maintain its annual dividend at 25 cents.

"In the coming year, we are focused on capturing the advantages the Agile way of working will deliver for us: highly engaged and productive people; a total focus on what matters for customers; and the ability to deliver new products and services – and improve existing ones - faster than ever before," Moutter said.

Spark shares last traded at $3.98 and have gained 10 per cent so far this year.

- additional reporting BusinessDesk.