Southeast Asia’s largest telecoms group Singapore Telecom (SingTel) today reported a 16.1% fall in net profit for its fiscal third quarter ended 31 December 2008, saying the group’s performance was adversely impacted by currency depreciations which weighed on its earnings. The Singapore-based operator reported solid performances in both its domestic market and for Optus in Australia, but said some of its regional associates in Indonesia, Pakistan and the Philippines underperformed – showing evidence of the rising impact of the global economic slowdown.
SingTel posted net profit of SGD799 million (USD532.7 million) for the three months under review, down from SGD952 million in the corresponding period of 2007, although the figure was better than the SGD774 million forecast in a poll of analysts by Dow Jones Newswires. SingTel’s operating revenues amounted to SGD3.7 billion, down 3.2% year-on-year, although the group would have booked a 14% rise in revenues but for fluctuations in the Australian dollar, it said. ‘The group reported strong operational performance in Australia and Singapore in the quarter with both countries posting double-digit revenue growth amid the slowing economic environment,’ SingTel said. However, the strength of the Singapore dollar relative to other regional currencies affected results. SingTel reported that pre-tax profits from its six mobile associates in the region – Thailand’s Advanced Info Service (AIS), India’s Bharti Airtel, Globe Telecom in the Philippines, Indonesia’s Telkomsel, Pacific Bangladesh Telecom (PBTL) and Pakistan’s Warid Telecom – fell 24% or SGD156 million dollars because of regional currency depreciation, without which the contributions would have fallen by only 13%, SingTel said.