PLDT Inc. has released its full year results for the twelve months ended 31 December 2019, with consolidated revenues increasing by 4% to PHP169.19 billion (USD3.35 billion) from PHP162.91 billion in 2018, and net income climbing 20% year-on-year to PHP22.79 billion. The Philippines’ largest telco by revenues and subscribers attributed the strong performance in large part to higher revenues from data services in its Wireless and Fixed Line business segments and higher revenues from voice services in its (fixed) business segment, partially offset by lower revenues from voice, SMS and home broadband services in the wireless business segment. Group EBITDA, meanwhile, improved from PHP64.03 billion in FY 2018 to PHP79.82 billion as the EBITDA margin surged by seven percentage points (to 49%) and operating expenses fell 13% to PHP129.79 billion.
PLDT’s chairman and CEO, Manuel Pangilinan, commented on a positive year for the carrier in a challenging market, with revenue reaching ‘record levels’ fuelled by growth in its mobile consumer business. ‘This was achieved in large part by making the needed investments in our data and IT networks. We must continue investing in our networks and transforming our processes and our people. Through this, we should be able to sustain the strong growth of our consumer wireless business,’ he said. Going forward, PLDT has raised its CAPEX budget by 14% y-o-y to around PHP83 billion, around PHP65 billion of which is being set aside for network and IT projects, mainly to support exponential growth in data traffic. Mobile data revenue increased by 35% on an annualised basis to PHP14.98 billion, as mobile arm Smart Communications reported a 21% rise in subscribers to 73.118 million, with pre-paid users up over five million to 25.87 million. Smart also boosted the number of 4G base stations on air to 24,600 (up 51%) and 3G to 13,800 (up 19%), increasing mobile internet coverage to 94% of the population in the process. Pangilinan said of 5G too, that PLDT will look to make ‘a more meaningful investment this year’, but stopped short of divulging a rollout timetable.
In the fixed line arena, PLDT reported a total of more than 2.161 million high speed internet subscribers at end-2019, up 7% from 2.025 million in 2018, with fixed broadband users up 7% to 1.93 million and fixed-wireless accounts standing at 230,151 (2018: 213,526). Finally, the telco recorded a total of 2.765 million fixed voice telephony users, up 2% from 2.711 million a year earlier.