South-East Asia’s biggest telecoms group Singapore Telecommunications Ltd (SingTel) reported a surprise rise in net profit for its fiscal third quarter to 30 December 2010, attributed to strong performances in its home market and for Optus in Australia. The group’s net income climbed 0.8% year-on-year to SGD998.2 million (USD784 million) in the October-December period, beating the SGD925 million average estimate in a poll compiled by Bloomberg. Consolidated revenue increased 5.7% year-on-year to SGD4.7 billion as strong growth at home and in Australia helped offset weak results from regional associates such as India’s Bharti Airtel and Indonesian venture PT Telekomunikasi Selular (Telkomsel).
SingTel CEO Chua Sock Koong is looking to sales of smartphones and investments in start-up operations to stimulate growth going forward, as markets across its region of operation become increasingly saturated. ‘Singapore and Australia continued to perform and deliver strong revenue growth,’ Chua said in the statement. The operator continues to invest in multimedia ‘as we transform the group’s business beyond telecommunications,’ Chua added. In Singapore, SingTel said turnover increased 7% year-on-year to SGD1.63 billion and EBITDA was up 1% at SGD587 million, in a period in which the operator signed up 41,000 net new post-paid mobile customers – the highest number in two years. Meanwhile SingTel Optus, Australia’s second largest telecoms company after Telstra Corp, reported a 5% y-o-y rise in EBITDA to AUD553 million (USD559 million), in a period in which it added 150,000 post-paid mobile users. By contract, the pre-tax profit contribution from SingTel’s regional mobile associates fell by 13% year-on-year to SGD488 million. Bharti Airtel booked a ‘larger than expected’ 41% decline in net income on 2 February, with the company noting that adverse currency movements both in its home territory and across its African operations led to currency losses of USD34 million in the quarter.