Southeast Asia’s largest phone company Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel) has reported better than expected turnover and profit figures for its fiscal third quarter ended 31 December 2009, on the back of strong subscriber gains in its home market and in Indonesia. The operator posted consolidated net income of SGD990.7 million (USD696 million) for the three months under review, beating the SGD948 million average estimate in a poll conducted by Bloomberg. The operator said the attraction of music services and products such as the Apple iPhone helped increase mobile revenue by 9% year-on-year, while SingTel’s internet TV service also posted record subscriber gains. Third-quarter group sales were up 20% y-o-y to SGD4.45 billion, it said, bringing the nine-month total to SGD12.4 billion.
In its home market SingTel said EBITDA rose 3.4% y-o-y to SGD580 million on a 1.5% improvement in sales. Subscriber numbers to ‘mio TV’ increased 29,000, a record quarterly gain, for a total of 155,000, while overall mobile users in Singapore rose 8.1% from 31 December 2008 to 3.2 million. At the end of the year the group’s mobile arm, SingTel Mobile, controlled 46.2% of the domestic market, unchanged from three months earlier. In Indonesia, SingTel’s 35%-owned subsidiary PT Telekomunikasi Selular (Telkomsel) reported a 53% annualised rise in earnings to SGD238 million, while third-quarter pre-tax profits dipped 32% y-o-y. Telkomsel, which is Indonesia’s largest mobile operator by subscribers, increased its customer numbers 25% to 81.6 million and posted a 15% improvement in sales amid ‘continued cost management,’ according to SingTel. The unit’s result was also aided by a 6% gain by the Indonesian rupiah against the Singapore dollar, the statement read.
Sydney-based SingTel Optus, which is wholly owned by the Singaporean parent, reported EBITDA of AUD529 million (USD456 million) up 3.6% year-on-year as a fall in demand for fixed line services was offset by increased mobile phone revenues.
On an aggregated basis, at the start of 2010 SingTel had 285 million mobile customers worldwide, up 23% from a year earlier. In addition to its wholly owned units in Australia and Singapore, and Telkomsel in Indonesia, it has stakes in operators in India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Thailand and the Philippines. Bharti Airtel reported a 4.6% y-o-y rise in sales to SGD235 million as its subscriber base jumped 39% to 118.9 million compared to a year earlier, SingTel said. The contribution of Advanced Info Service (AIS), Thailand’s biggest mobile phone company, dropped 12.2% to SGD52 million, however, while Globe Telecom in the Philippines posted a 5.7% decline in profit to SGD54 million. In a separate statement, Globe Telecom has shelved its plan to offer mobile television services as it waits for the availability of cheaper and a wider range of handsets that are capable of receiving digital TV signals.