Singtel Group has released its financial results for its fiscal third quarter ended 31 December 2022, reporting a 27.6% drop in net profit to SGD532 million (USD399 million), compared with SGD734 million a year ago, attributed to a net exceptional gain in the corresponding quarter last year resulting from the partial divestment of Indara. Southeast Asia’s largest telecom operator by revenue and subscriptions reported that operating revenue fell 5.1% to SGD3.713 billion and EBITDA slumped 8.0% to SGD911 million, but underlying net profit (i.e. excluding one-time items) rose 18.2% to SGD559 million, driven mainly by associate Airtel’s strong growth momentum. Further, total earnings derived from regional associates – Optus (Australia), Airtel (India/Africa), Telkomsel (Indonesia), AIS (Thailand), Globe Telecom (Philippines) – were up 22.6% year-on-year to SGD407 million from SGD332 million.
Commenting on the telco’s performance, Group CEO Yuen Kuan Moon said: ‘It was a challenging quarter but we had distinct positives in the form of the strong roaming recovery across our core consumer and enterprise businesses; a return to customer net adds over the last two months as Optus regained customer trust and confidence after last year’s cyber-attack; while our Airtel associate continued to show strong growth momentum. As companies accelerate their digital transformation, NCS’ order book remains strong although labour and acquisition costs continue to affect margins. However, we expect NCS’ margins to improve as the cost of scaling the business eases in the coming quarters. We are keeping a tight rein on the Group’s business costs in the current inflationary environment while balancing the need to invest in growth and innovation as we steadily execute on our strategic priorities against this uncertain economic backdrop.’