The Asian telecoms behemoth Singapore Telecommunications (Singtel) says its net income for the fiscal second-quarter ending 30 September 2015 dipped 0.8% to SGD1.03 billion (USD725.9 million), from SGD1.04 billion a year ago, as unfavourable foreign currency fluctuations wiped out gains made from increased usage of mobile data across its domestic and international operations. Revenue for the quarter fell 2.9% year-on-year to SGD4.18 billion, and underlying net income was sluggish at SGD974.0 million (unchanged). Singtel, which owns stakes in India (Bharti Airtel), Indonesia (Telkomsel), Australia (Singtel Optus), the Philippines (Globe Telecom) and Thailand (AIS), generates the majority of its sales overseas, and as such is susceptible to FOREX changes. In Australia, for example, the dollar (AUD) fell 13% against the Singapore dollar (SGD) during the quarter, offsetting a 3% rise in revenue from Optus’ consumer business, it said. Nevertheless, Singtel’s share of pre-tax earnings from its regional mobile associates grew 1.7% y-o-y to SGD632 million, on the back of rising data services usage and subscriber gains.
‘This quarter, we have again strengthened our position across Singapore, Australia and the associates’ markets,’ Singtel Group CEO Chua Sock Koong said, adding: ‘Mobile data growth continues to be a key focus. Our investments in 3G and 4G network infrastructure and spectrum, alongside increasing smartphone penetration, are delivering improved experiences for customers. While currency weakness has affected our reported numbers, our underlying performance is resilient.’
Southeast Asia’s biggest telecom operator by subscribers and revenue maintained its forecast for consolidated revenue for the full year ending 31 March 2016, which it expects to grow at a mid-single digit rate, while earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) are forecast within the low-single digit rate range. Singtel confirmed, however, that it is cutting its forecast for mobile revenue in its home market due to an anticipated fall in mobile roaming revenue.
Singtel Group closed out September with a total of 576.948 million mobile subscribers, up 2.1% (net twelve million) quarter-on-quarter and up 8.5% from 531.681 million at end-September 2014. On a proportionate share basis, the Group’s mobile customer base increased 2.2% to 204 million from a quarter ago.