SingTel Q1 net grows 7%

Singapore Telecom said its net profit climbed 7.0 per cent in the fiscal first quarter from the previous year on stronger contributions from regional associates and lower costs.

Net profit in the three months ended June was S$1.01 billion (US$797 million), up from S$945 million in the same period last year, Southeast Asia’s biggest telecom firm by revenue said in a statement to the Singapore Exchange.

Group revenue fell 5.3 per cent to S$4.3 billion, SingTel said, adding that this reflected a more cautious business environment and a slowdown in the mobile market in Australia, where its wholly-owned subsidiary Optus operates.

SingTel, which has expanded beyond its small domestic market in the city-state, said the weaker Australian dollar also weighed on revenue.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), were up 4.0 per cent to S$1.30 billion as expenses fell 9.0 per cent.

The company said its regional mobile associates posted a 14 per cent rise in pre-tax ordinary earnings to S$552 million, with India’s Bharti Airtel reporting a better performance.

Apart from Bharti Airtel, SingTel also owns substantial stakes in four other foreign mobile operators — Indonesia’s Telkomsel, Thailand’s Advanced Info Service, the Philippines’ Globe Telecom and Pacific Bangladesh Telecom.

“It was a strong quarter,” SingTel group chief executive Chua Sock Koong said in a statement.

“We continue to make progress in strengthening our high performance core business and create next-generation growth engines in the digital space.”

SingTel said its combined regional mobile customer base climbed 6.0 per cent to 477 million.

“Our regional mobile associates have continued to perform well. We are also pleased to see some pricing discipline returning to the Indian mobile market and are optimistic that (Bharti) Airtel, as the market leader, is positioned to benefit from this.”

At its results briefing on Wednesday, SingTel also said that it has learnt some important lessons on content acquisition as a result of the new cross-carriage regime.

As content becomes non-exclusive, SingTel said it will be able to access a wider pool of programme offerings, which will help grow its Average Revenue Per User or ARPU.

Allen Lew, CEO, Group Digital Life at SingTel, said: “Our ARPU will increase further because the BPL (Barclays Premier League) pricing has gone up from what we historically used to sell.

“Added to the new pricing that you see in the market, and we will get access to a new group of customers that are SingTel customers now who are subscribing to BPL on our competitor’s platform. That gives us an opportunity not just to get revenue from them, but also engage in a relationship with them as well.”