Aussie dollar slump hits Singtel's profits

Q2 earnings down 0.8%; firm susceptible to currency volatility as 70% revenue overseas

The steep fall in the Aussie dollar capped second-quarter earnings at Singtel despite growth across its markets. Net profit came in at $1.03 billion for the three months to Sept 30, down 0.8 per cent from the $1.04 billion in the same period a year ago. Operating revenue slid 2.9 per cent to $4.18 billion on the back of "currency headwinds". Earnings grew 5 per cent to $1.97 billion for the half year, while operating revenue fell 0.8 per cent to $8.39 billion.

About 70 per cent of Singtel's revenue is derived from outside Singapore, which makes its earnings susceptible to currency movements, including that of the Aussie dollar, which weakened 13 per cent against the Singdollar during the period.

Group chief financial officer Lim Cheng Cheng told a briefing yesterday that while the firm hedges its debts and trade payables, it does not do so for profit and loss-related transactions.

Earnings per share for the quarter came in at 6.46 cents, down from 6.51 cents previously, while net asset value per share stood at $1.54 as at Sept 30, compared with the $1.55 as at March 31 this year.

Singtel declared an interim dividend of 6.8 cents per share, unchanged from last year, or a payout ratio of 58 per cent of its underlying net profit for the half year. It maintained its outlook for full-year earnings, noting revenue for the 12 months to March 31, 2016 will likely grow at a mid single-digit rate while earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation could expand at a low single-digit rate.

  • AT A GLANCE

  • NET PROFIT

    $1.03 billion (-0.8%)


    OPERATING REVENUE

    $4.18 billion (-2.9%)


    DIVIDENDS

    6.8 cents (unchanged)

But it cut its forecast for mobile communications revenue in Singapore. This is now expected to deliver a low single-digit growth instead of a mid single-digit rate due to lower contributions from mobile roaming, as customers switch from voice roaming to data roaming services.

Group chief executive Chua Sock Koong told Bloomberg Television that the mobile data segment would be the group's "next phase of growth" on the back of growing demand across its markets. But she acknowledged headwinds remain, especially with competition set to intensify. The Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore said earlier this year that it will open additional spectrum for a new telco. Still, Ms Chua added that the group "will take competition seriously".

OCBC Investment Research analyst Carey Wong maintained a "buy" call on the stock, although he pared its fair value from $4.38 to $4.17 to "account for the lower market value of its listed associates".

The results were released before markets opened. Singtel shares closed flat at $3.87 yesterday.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 13, 2015, with the headline 'Aussie dollar slump hits Singtel's profits'. Print Edition | Subscribe