Southeast Asia’s biggest telephone company by subscribers and revenue, Singapore Telecommunications (SingTel), has posted a better-than-expected 3.2% year-on-year rise in net profit for its fiscal first-quarter ended 30 June 2012. The carrier booked quarterly net income of SGD945 million (USD759 million), up from SGD916 million a year earlier, and eclipsing market analysts’ expectations of profit of SGD923 million. The carrier said the results were bolstered by one-time gains and by the positive impact of higher earnings from its Thai and Indonesian affiliates offsetting a drop in contributions from India (Bharti Airtel). SingTel has reaffirmed its forecast of low single-digit revenue growth and ‘stable’ earnings for the full year, but added the caveat that full-year EBITDA may be impacted by exchange rate fluctuations – which, following a 3.1% fall in the Australian dollar (AUD) versus the Singapore dollar (SGD), affected earning in its fiscal first-quarter. The Indian rupee also slumped 18.3% year-on-year versus the SGD, while in Indonesia, the local currency fell 5.9%.
Commenting on the Q1 performance, SingTel Group CEO Chua Sock Koong said: ‘the group delivered a resilient performance this quarter despite regional currency headwinds and operating challenges in India’. Core net profit, excluding the aforementioned one-time gains, fell 2.6% y-o-y however, to SGD850 million, from SGD873 million in the same period a year ago, while free cash flow declined 21% to SGD725 million, largely down to ‘working capital changes’ and lower cash flow from Australian unit SingTel Optus. ‘The [Group’s] new organisational structure has settled down well. Our new business units will extend our customer proposition into adjacent industries, new customer segments and geographical markets,’ Ms Chua added.
In operational terms, SingTel saw its consolidated mobile customer base climb 2.4% year-on-year to 483 million in the three months ended 30 June 2012. The Australian unit reported continued growth in its post-paid subscriber base, with net additions of 88,000 for the quarter. Post-paid customers comprised 56% of the total base at 30 June 2012, up two percentage points from a year ago. The number of 3G subscribers rose to 6.82 million, a 3% increase quarter-on-quarter and included a base of 1.57 million wireless broadband customers.
Indonesia’s Telkomsel had another strong quarter, with 10% revenue growth across its voice, SMS and data products. The cellco’s total mobile customer base reached 117 million by the end of June, up 14.9 million or 15% y-o-y. AIS Thailand had another quarter of strong performance, with growth in both voice and non-voice revenues, while customer base grew 7% to 34.8 million from a year ago. Bharti Airtel’s total mobile customer base reached the 250 million milestone in the period under review, thanks to a net increase of 28.8 million connections from a year ago. In South Asia, Airtel’s mobile customer base grew by 19.2 million or 11% y-o-y to 194 million as at 30 June 2012, while in Africa, its mobile customer base reached 55.9 million (+21%). Globe Telecom in the Philippines meanwhile, had 31.7 million mobile subscribers by mid-2012, up 12% y-o-y.