For Telecom Italia and Vodafone, ROCE nose-dived towards zero in 2018, as both companies wrote down the value of various assets.
In 2018, the average ROCE among the big five telcos was 5%, about half of what it was in 2010.
The weak ROCE performance achieved by the big five makes it tough to justify the increases in capex required to fund a timely deployment of 5G and fibre across Europe. With cash flow under renewed pressure, telcos realistically need to keep capex below 15% of sales, which would mean a sedate deployment of 5G, focused on hotspots.
Pringle Media has just published a report tracking and comparing the key financial metrics of these five major telcos over the past nine years.