SingTel Q4 profit rose 4%, buoyed by Singapore consumer business

Weaker regional currencies hit SingTel's fourth quarter earnings, but the telco still posted a 4 per cent rise in net profit for both the quarter and the full year. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP 
Weaker regional currencies hit SingTel's fourth quarter earnings, but the telco still posted a 4 per cent rise in net profit for both the quarter and the full year. -- FILE PHOTO: AFP 

Weaker regional currencies hit SingTel's fourth quarter earnings, but the telco still posted a 4 per cent rise in net profit for both the quarter and the full year. SingTel's net profit was $898 million for the quarter ended March 31 (2014), and $3.65 billion for the full year.

Earnings growth was driven by a stronger showing from its Singapore consumer business and stronger contributions from its regional associates, led by Bharti Airtel in India and Africa. But this was offset by lower consumer revenue in Australia and its group enterprise business.

As it had earlier expected, SingTel posted a 7 per cent drop in overall revenue for both the quarter and the year, during which revenue reached $4.1 billion and $16.8 billion, respectively.

Still, SingTel is "on track" to boost its core business and expand into providing Internet services, said Ms Chua Sock Koong, group chief executive officer. "We will leverage our network expansion and increased penetration of 4G devices to drive customer and data revenue growth," said Ms Chua.

SingTel's Singapore consumer business, of which mobile service revenues formed the bulk, grew about 5 per cent year-on-year in the fourth quarter to $565 million. Higher mobile data use and tiered data plan subscriptions boosted mobile service revenue.

During the quarter, SingTel added 24,000 mobile subscribers, bringing its total mobile base to 3.98 million. Of these, 2.2 million are postpaid customers, half of whom are now on tiered data plans that come with smaller data allowances. Of the 1.1 million tiered data customers, 16 per cent paid more for exceeding their data allowances during the quarter.

In the preceding quarter ended Dec 31, 2013, only 960,000 customers were on tiered data plans. Of these, only 14 per cent paid more for exceeding their data allowances.

The highest year-on-year quarterly growth of 47 per cent came from its mio TV division from content bundle upgrades including the takeup of English Premier League and Fifa World Cup bundles.

Although the growth in pay-TV subscribers was flat during the quarter, its average revenue per customer rose to $35 per month, from $32 in the three months to Dec 31, 2013.

SingTel had 418,000 mio TV subscribers as at March 31 (2014).

Pre-tax earnings at its regional associates - like Bharti Airtel in India, Thailand's AIS, Globe Telecom in the Philippines and Indonesia's Telkomsel - were hit by the weaker Australian dollar, Indonesian rupiah and Indian rupee. Even so, pre-tax profits rose 9 per cent to $558 million in the quarter bouyed by greater mobile data usage.

Revenue from the group's digital division grew 73 per cent to $50 million in the quarter, driven mostly by mobile ad unit Amobee.

Earnings per share for the quarter rose to 5.64 cents from 5.45 cents a year earlier, while net asset value per share was $1.50 as at Mar 31, the same as a year ago.

SingTel plans to pay a final dividend of 10 cents a share.

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