Singtel’s 1H results resilient despite headwinds
Half year ended 30 September 2018
- Operating revenue stable and up 3% in constant currency terms to S$8.40 billion
- Net profit down 60% due to a S$2 billion gain last year from partial divestment of NetLink Trust stake
- Underlying net profit down 21% to S$1.45 billion, due mainly to lower contributions from associates and a stronger Singapore dollar against regional and Australian currencies
- Interim dividend at 6.8 cents per share
Singtel delivered resilient results for the first half, with operating revenue up 3% in constant currency terms to S$8.40 billion, underpinned by strong postpaid mobile customer growth and higher equipment sales across Singapore and Australia. EBITDA decreased 3% in constant currency terms with lower NBN migration revenues in Australia, lower voice revenue, as well as investments in the Group’s digital businesses. Net profit was down 60% from the same period last year to S$1.50 billion, due largely to an exceptional gain from the partial divestment of NetLink Trust. Excluding the one-off items, underlying net profit fell 21% due mainly to lower contributions from Airtel and Telkomsel, and a stronger Singapore dollar against the regional and Australian currencies.
Ms Chua Sock Koong, Singtel Group CEO, said, “Our industry continued to face various headwinds and intense competition. Notwithstanding these challenges, the half-year results reflect the resilience of our business with continued focus on networks, differentiated content, unique capabilities and innovative plans. We continued to add postpaid mobile customers across both Singapore and Australia and improved our customer retention rate. We affirm our full-year guidance despite a more challenging economic outlook. While ICT revenue was lower in the first half of the year with the completion of a major infrastructure project last year, our order book is strong and we expect ICT to grow in the second half.”
In the regional associates’ markets, mobile data remained the key growth driver. Strong performances from Globe in the Philippines and Airtel Africa mitigated lower contributions from Airtel in India and Telkomsel in Indonesia. Airtel’s results were negatively affected by intense competition and mandated cuts in mobile termination rates in India, although ARPU was stable on a sequential quarter basis. In October, Airtel Africa raised US$1.25 billion in new equity from global investors including US$250 million from Singtel, ahead of an intended Initial Public Offering. Telkomsel’s earnings were impacted by lower voice and SMS revenues, as well as intense data price competition during the mandatory prepaid SIM card registration period. Following the completion of this exercise, Telkomsel implemented price increases in selected areas, which helped drive a 22% growth in sequential quarter earnings. In Thailand, AIS’ earnings were impacted by higher depreciation from 4G network expansion.
Ms Chua said, “We remain positive about our regional associates which continue to benefit from the growing demand for data and have executed well against the challenges and competition. Our recent investment into Airtel Africa together with other global investors show confidence in the long-term growth potential of the continent with smartphone penetration and adoption of mobile payments set to rise even further. We have made strides in building an ecosystem of digital services to leverage the Group’s strengths and unlock the value of our mobile customer base of more than 700 million across Asia. We are focused on capturing the high-growth but fragmented e-payments market, as well as the nascent esports and gaming scene in the region – areas where we have the opportunity to lead and accelerate growth.”
In October, the Singtel Group launched VIA, the region’s first cross-border mobile payment alliance with AIS and Kasikornbank, Thailand’s largest digital bank, enabling QR code-based mobile payments through mobile wallets across both Singapore and Thailand. This alliance will be progressively expanded to include other regional associates and non-telco partners. That same month, the inaugural PVP Esports Championship, a multi-title and regional league, played to a sold out crowd of more than 3,000 in Singapore over three days, and more critically, drew over 13 million global viewers through the Group’s content platforms and content partners.
The Group’s cash position remains healthy. Free cash flow rose 7% to S$2.14 billion for the half year on higher dividend receipts from associates and lower capital expenditure.
The Board approved an interim dividend of 6.8 cents per share, representing a payout ratio of 77% of underlying net profit for the half year ended 30 September 2018.source singtel
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