Singapore-based Singtel Group yesterday reported a 1.8% rise in net profit for its fiscal fourth quarter ending 31 March 2017, fuelled by growth in broadband, mobile data and services such as cybersecurity. Southeast Asia’s largest telecom operator by subscribers and revenue posted a net profit of SGD963 million (USD692.7 million) for the three months under review, compared with SGD946 million a year ago, as operating revenue climbed 5.2% to SGD4.31 billion. Full-year 2016/17 net profit was reported as ‘stable’ at SGD3.85 billion (FY 2015/16: SGD3.87 billion) in a period in which revenue fell by 1.5% to SGD16.71 billion. EBITDA stood at SGD1.31 billion for the quarter (+3.7%) and SGD4.99 billion for the year (down 0.3%). Meanwhile, underlying net profit – which excludes one-time items – rose 0.8% on an annualised basis to SGD3.92 billion, broadly in line with analysts’ average estimate of SGD3.91 billion.
The Group reported that growth in its home market and a strong performance at Indonesian affiliate Telkomsel helped to offset a lower contribution from its Indian venture Bharti Airtel, which is facing intense price competition in India. Pre-tax profits from Singtel Group’s regional mobile associates fell approximately 6% to SGD658 million, it said, largely due to the 71.7% slump in profit at India’s Bharti Airtel during the quarter. The mobile industry in Airtel’s home market has been driven into an annual revenue decline for the first time ever due to intense competition, reportedly triggered by the impact of newcomer Jio’s free introductory offers. As a result, Airtel’s pre-tax profit contribution fell by 51%. However, Telkomsel’s pre-tax profit contribution rose 17% year-on-year as it continued to deliver robust growth across voice, data and digital services.
Singtel Group closed out 31 March 2017 with a total of 638.127 million mobile customers, compared to 639.284 million three months earlier and 605.284 million at end-March 2016. On a proportionate ownership basis, it counted 243.360 million subscribers on its books at the same date, down from 244.154 million at end-2016, but higher than the 214.431 million figure reported at 31 March 2016.
Commenting on the results, Singtel Group CEO Chua Sock Koong said: ‘We have turned in a strong set of results this quarter despite a challenging business environment. This performance demonstrated the strength of our core businesses and diversified operations, aided by strong cost management. Our investments in networks and spectrum, differentiated content and innovative plans have helped us stand out from the competition and win new customers.’