Telco StarHub's first-quarter earnings fell on the back of higher expenditure in its new cyber-security business and a decline in its mobile and pay TV takings.
Net profit fell 14.2 per cent to $54 million for the three months to March 31, compared with the same period last year.
Growth from its network solutions and cyber-security services boosted revenue by 6 per cent to $596.8 million, the firm said.
Chief executive Peter Kaliaropoulos, who joined nine months ago, said the telco is still in the midst of transformation to improve customers' experience. Some of the efforts include simplifying mobile and TV offers, and making it easier for customers to transact on mobile and online platforms.
"We are also migrating tens of thousands of cable customers every month to fibre TV," he said yesterday after its results were released.
He said a great majority of customers have completed the migration and the firm is on track to cut off cable services by June 30. But he conceded that "very few thousands" of customers living in landed homes may see some delays as the switch from cable to fibre would require the installation of new fibre ducts. This could mean digging up some front yards.
"We are definitely not in the business of throwing customers away," he said, adding that the telco will work with the fibre network operator NetLink Trust to provide access to these customers' homes.
Mr Kaliaropoulos said despite increased competition from more mobile providers, post-paid mobile subscribers grew 5.4 per cent from a year ago to 1.44 million.
However, this did not translate into higher earnings. Lower international direct dialling, voice and excess data usage revenue, data subscription and value-added services revenue caused a slide of 5.3 per cent to $192.3 million in the mobile segment.
Broadband service revenue was flat at $47.1 million for the quarter even as the firm added 27,000 customers year on year, bringing the base to a high of 495,000.
AT A GLANCE
$596.8 million (+6%)
$54 million (-14.2%)
DIVIDEND PER SHARE (PER QUARTER):
The number of pay-TV subscribers continued to decline by 15,000 households over the quarter to 394,000. Turnover from the pay-TV segment fell 12.4 per cent to $70.7 million as customers turned to alternative sources of content.
Earnings per share fell from 3.5 cents to 3 cents, while net asset value per share was 33.6 cents against 30.5 cents as of Dec 31 last year. The telco intends to pay a dividend of at least 9 cents per ordinary share, at a rate of 2.25 cents per quarter for this financial year.
StarHub shares added 2 cents, or 1.28 per cent, to close at $1.58 before the results were released.