Singtel Q4 profits slump on forex losses, NBN issues in Australia and lower contributions from associates

17 May 2018

Singapore Telecommunications (Singtel) has reported a 19% drop in net profit to SGD781 million (USD582.2 million) for its fourth quarter ended 31 March 2018, down from SGD963 million in the corresponding year-ago period, as EBITDA fell 13.2% to SGD1.754 billion from SGD2.022 billion and operating income (EBIT) plummeted 18.6% to SGD1.170 billion. More positively, operating revenue for the quarter inched up 0.4% to SGD4.326 billion from SGD4.308 billion. Southeast Asia’s biggest telco said that its results were ‘adversely impacted by negative currency movements, a temporary suspension in connecting and migrating customers to Australia’s National Broadband Network (NBN) and lower associates’ contributions from Telkomsel, Airtel and NetLink NBN Trust’. For example, Singtel pointed to the fact that the net income contribution from its Indonesian wireless venture Telkomsel declined 22.1% year-on-year to SGD219 million, with Arthur Lang – CEO of the group’s international operation – noting: ‘It is not just a weakness in Telkomsel. Actually, the whole industry went through a bit of an adjustment in this past quarter’. Lang went on to cite factors such as slower than expected data revenue growth in Indonesia, failing to offset the decline in sales of traditional voice services because of what he termed ‘a deluge of pre-activated SIM cards in the market’ which drove down prices – albeit temporarily. Further, Indonesia implementing new SIM card registration rules also led to a downward ‘adjustment’ in its subscriber base there and increased churn, although he contended that the industry is expected to recover in the coming quarters aided by increased smartphone penetration and an attendant rise in data usage.

For the twelve months to end-March, meanwhile, Singtel said group revenue increased by 4.9% on an annualised basis to SGD17.532 billion from SGD16.711 billion, EBITDA fell 4.2% to SGD7.550 billion, operating income dipped 7.7% to SGD5.210 billion, although net profit rose by 41.5% to SGD5.451 billion. As at 31 March 2018, Singtel reported that the aggregate number of mobile subscribers across the group stood at 705.978 million, up from 638.127 million, while on a proportionate share basis, the figure stood at 280.560 million, from 243.360 million.

Commenting on the results, Singtel Group Chief Executive Office Chua Sock Koong, said: ‘These results reflect the strong execution of our digital transformation strategy in both our core and new digital businesses. Optus gained market share in Australia underscoring its network and content strategy while our ICT and digital businesses now account for 24% of revenue, with digital marketing arm Amobee achieving growth and positive EBITDA for the year.’

Australia, Indonesia, Singapore, Singtel, Singtel Group, Singtel Optus, Telkomsel (Telekomunikasi Selular)