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Singtel's net profit dips 1.7% in Q3

The telco reported a net profit of S$954 million for the third quarter of the current financial year, down from S$970 million a year ago, due to a one-off tax credit last year and its acquisition of Trustwave in September 2015.

SINGAPORE: Singapore Telecommunications (Singtel) reported a 1.7 per cent fall in third-quarter net profit, as adverse currency movements and investments offset growing mobile data usage by its customers.

Singtel, South-east Asia's biggest telecommunications operator, on Friday (Feb 12) posted a net profit of S$954 million for the three months ended December, compared with S$970 million a year ago. Underlying net profit, excluding one-off items, was S$955 million.

The telco attributed the decline to a one-off tax credit last year and its acquisition of a controlling stake in US cybersecurity provider Trustwave in September 2015. If not for these, net profit for the quarter would have risen 3 per cent, the telco said.

Revenue for the quarter was S$4.47 billion, up 1.1 per cent from the S$4.43 billion posted in the same period a year ago. EBITDA – earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation – was down 0.7 per cent at S$1.22 billion.

In Singapore, mobile data growth remained strong as postpaid customers traded up to higher-tier plans with 26 per cent exceeding their data bundles, while more than half of prepaid customers tapped mobile data services. The launch of data-centric, SIM-only plans also saw strong take-up, with new customers making up more than two-thirds of the new sign-ups, Singtel said.

However, declines in roaming and IDD services and softer handset sales saw Singapore revenue drop 4 per cent overall.

In Australia, Optus consumer revenue grew 6 per cent on continued growth in mobile and fixed as well as strong handset sales. Data revenues grew 10 per cent on increasing penetration of 4G services. Branded postpaid customers grew 89,000, while mobile handset customers grew 41,000, Singtel said.

The telco maintained its outlook for the financial year ending Mar 31. Consolidated results and cash flow may be affected by exchange rate movements in the Australian dollar and regional currencies. It expects revenue from core businesses - Group Consumer and Group Enterprise - to grow at a mid-single-digit level, and EBITDA to grow at a low-single-digit level.