Singapore Telecom (Singtel), Southeast Asia’s biggest carrier by subscribers and revenue, said net profit for its fiscal third quarter ending 31 December 2015 declined 1.7% year-on-year to SGD953.5 million (USD688 million) from SGD969.8 million in the corresponding period of 2014. The carrier blamed the result on foreign exchange gains made by the Singapore dollar against currencies in those countries in which it has an active presence, such as Australia where the dollar (AUD) fell 8.4% versus the SGD. In addition, Singtel notes that its profitability was impacted by climbing investment costs as it looks to ramp up its capabilities in a number of key business areas, including ‘investing significantly in our engineering talent and strengthening our core capabilities in cyber security, data analytics and cloud computing’. The group says that these investments will hopefully position it ‘to capture exponential data growth in a mobile-first digital world but will impact free cashflow in the near term. Singtel’s 4G network has the widest coverage at 99.8% in Singapore, while Optus is poised to further expand its 4G coverage in regional Australia after securing the 1800MHz spectrum. Optus’ 4G coverage now reaches 92% of the Australian population’.
Group revenue of SGD4.47 billion represented an increase of 1.1% on the same time a year ago, it said, with a sizeable portion being generated by its international associates. Singtel’s pre-tax earnings from its regional mobile associates climbed 0.2% to SGD647 million, it said, while group EBITDA improved 4.8% to SGD1.92 billion, aided by a better performance from its mobile advertising technology unit Amobee and savings from discontinued businesses.
On the operational front, Singtel closed out 2015 with an aggregate total of 594.692 million mobile subscribers, compared to 543.409 million at 31 December 2014, while on a proportionate basis the total climbed to 210.519 million from 191.493 million. In its home market, Singtel reported 4.101 million mobile users at the end of the period under review, up 0.2% y-o-y, including 2.205 million 4G LTE customers (+32.8%). It also claimed 424,000 residential TV customers, up a net 4,000 over the year, while fixed broadband connections edged up 2.1% to 597,000, predominantly fibre-optic (485,000) lines. In the fixed line arena, meanwhile, Singtel reported 1.545 million telephony connections at end-2015, up from 1.980 million previously, giving it a fixed line market share of 76.7%.