Southeast Asia’s largest phone company by subscribers Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) today posted a 9.6% rise in underlying quarterly profits for the three months ended 31 December 2007, driven by strong growth at its Asian associates which offset a lower profit return at its Australian business Optus. The state-backed telecoms group recorded underlying net profits (before goodwill and exceptional items) of SGD931 million (USD658.9 million) for its fiscal third quarter ended December, up from SGD850 million a year ago and better than the consensus forecast of SGD918.8 million in a Reuters’ poll of analysts. Group revenues rose 11% year-on-year to SGD3.83 billion, although attributable net profit slipped 4.2% to SGD952.3 million, resulting from FOREX losses and the impact of of one-time exceptional gain from a property sale recorded in Q4 2006 . The operator added that excluding the compensatory effects from the telecoms regulator for the loss of its monopoly status, its underlying income climbed 22% year-on-year. SingTel also reaffirmed its full-year guidance for fiscal year ending 31 March 2008 both for higher EBITDA and for single-digit sales growth in Singapore.
Nonetheless, the operator now derives roughly 75% of its revenues and two-thirds of its pre-tax profits from operations outside its home market. SingTel Optus, Australia’s second biggest mobile operator and SingTel’s largest revenue and profit generator, reported a 5.9% rise in quarterly underlying profit to AUD143 million (USD129.9 million). Elsewhere, SingTel has significant stakes in six emerging markets including a 30.5% equity interest in India’s Bharti, 44.5% in Globe Telecom in the Philippines, and 35% in Indonesia’s Telkomsel. Excluding exceptional items, pre-tax profits from SingTel associates rose 30% to SGD656 million in the quarter, driven mainly by the aforementioned businesses.