Singtel's net profit up 11 per cent in third quarter

Singtel's net profit up 11 per cent in third quarter

Singtel has posted a strong rise in third-quarter earnings, buoyed by a strong showing at home, at its Australian unit Optus and at regional associates.

Net profit for the three months ended Dec 31 jumped 11 per cent to $970 million for the telco, which has embarked on plans to stream online videos on user devices to boost its mobile data business.

Regional mobile associates - particularly Indonesia's Telkomsel and India's Bharti Airtel in which Singtel holds significant stakes - contributed $646 million in pre-tax earnings, up 28 per cent from a year earlier.

Revenue at Optus rose 7 per cent to A$1.91 billion (S$1.99 billion), though a weaker Australian dollar meant the contribution in Singdollar terms was lower.

Across the group, quarterly revenue rose 4 per cent to $4.4 billion on growth in mobile data services.

"In Singapore and Australia, we proactively acquired and recontracted customers on the back of smartphone launches and successfully upgraded them to higher- tiered data plans," Ms Chua Sock Koong, Singtel's group chief executive, said.

The performance of its regional mobile associates was also lifted by a higher takeup of mobile data, which is expected to continue to drive growth.

To tap this potential, Singtel will be streaming Hollywood blockbusters and indie movies on people's smartphones, computers and TV over the Internet across Asia, starting with the Philippines later this month.

This service will be delivered by HOOQ Digital Holdings, Singtel's joint venture with Sony and Warner Brothers Entertainment announced last month.

It will start with more than 10,000 titles.

Service rollout in Indonesia, Thailand, India and Singapore is expected to follow - to target the region's combined mobile customer base of 500 million users - although the telco would not commit to a timeline.

Its Singapore mobile business grew 1.5 per cent year on year to $533 million in the quarter. It added 24,000 subscribers, taking the total to 4.09 million.

Of these, 2.26 million were post-paid customers, with 59 per cent on tiered data plans that come with smaller data allowances.

Of the 1.33 million tiered data customers, 21 per cent paid more for exceeding their data allowances.

In the preceding quarter ended Sept 30, 1.27 million customers were on tiered data plans.

Of these, 19 per cent paid more for exceeding their data allowances.

It added 180,000 4G customers in the third quarter.

As at Dec 31, it had 1.66 million 4G users. Pay-TV revenue rose by 19 per cent year on year to $55 million.

Earnings per share for the quarter rose to 6.09 cents from 5.47 cents a year earlier, while net asset value per share was $1.49 as at Dec 31, down from $1.50 as at March 31.

Singtel shares closed four cents higher at $4.18 yesterday.

This article was first published on February 13, 2015.
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