M1 1Q16 profits impacted by customer acquisition cost

Singaporean telco M1 has reported that net profit after tax decreased 6.9 percent year-on-year to SG$203.4 million for the first quarter, due to higher upfront customer acquisition cost.

Singapore's third-largest telecommunications carrier M1 has announced that while net profit after tax decreased, service revenue remained stable and fixed services revenue lifted during the three months ended March 31, 2016.

The results, announced on Thursday, have revealed net profit after tax decreased 6.9 percent year-on-year to SG$203.4 million, which the company said was due to higher upfront customer acquisition cost. Although, year-on-year customer acquisition cost decreased 18.1 percent to SG$321 for 1Q16, compared to last quarter when it was 19.3 percent lower.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) was stable at SG$83.3 million year-on-year, with EBITDA margin, as a percentage of service revenue, sitting at 40.9 percent for the first quarter.

Lower handset sales impacted on overall operating revenue, which decreased 12.6 percent year on-year to SG$257.6 million for the period. Handset sales came in at SG$54.2 million, a 40.1 percent decrease year-on-year.

Service revenue remained fairly unchanged at SG$203.4 million, and fixed services revenue lifted 26.4 percent to SG$24.5 million and now accounts for 12 percent of total service revenue, which came in at $203.4 million for the 1Q16.

M1 reported the increase in fixed services was driven by the growth of 9,000 residential and corporate fibre customers in the quarter, bringing its fixed service customer base to 136,000.

Post-paid revenue decreased by 1.8 percent year-on- year to SG$144.7 million for 1Q16, which M1 said impacted total mobile telecommunication revenue that decreased by 1.9 percent to SG$163.4 million. Similarly, prepaid revenue decreased 2.2 percent year-on year to $18.7 million.

Despite the recorded drops, 13,000 post-paid customers and 1,000 prepaid customers were added during the quarter, according to M1, bringing total mobile customer base to 1.94 million as at March 31, 2016.

From an overall point of view, M1's customer base at March 31, 2016 stood at 2,078,000, a 5.1 percent increase from last year. The company recorded market of 23.3 percent as at January 31, 2016.

The company added that it recorded an increase in average data usage by both post-paid and prepaid users as users shifted from data-only plans to smartphone plans. Mobile data contribution increased 11.8 percent year-on-year to 53.1 percent of service revenue.

More specifically, the average post-paid smartphone data increased to 3.3GB per month during the quarter, from 3.2GB per month a year ago; while the average prepaid data usage grew to 1.3GB per month, up 0.8GB per month a year ago.

M1 CEO Karen Kooi said looking ahead M1 will work on improving its offering, pointing out during the quarter that the company enhanced its SIM-only plans, upsized data bundles, and expanded its roaming data coverage.

During the quarter, the company also attained 1Gbps download/130Mbps upload speeds on its 4G mobile network in Singapore in partnership with Chinese technology giant Huawei through the combination of four network technologies: 4x4 Multiple-Input Multiple-Output (MIMO); two-component carrier (2CC) uplink carrier aggregation; 3CC tri-band downlink carrier aggregation; and Higher Order Modulation 256 Quadrature Amplitude Modulation (QAM).

In addition, M1 launched its Gigabit Passive Optical Network (GPON) commercial fibre broadband service to give customers access to speeds of up to 10Gbps.

"M1 will continue to offer new and innovative products and services to build customer loyalty and attract new customers," she said. "We are also investing in new technologies that will complement our core business. This may be in early stage companies, for which benefits may only accrue in future years."

Kooi added that based on current economic outlook, the company estimates a stable performance for the remainder of 2016.