Singtel's Q3 earnings dip on higher customer acquisition cost

Singapore telco clocks 11 percent climb in net profit to S$970 million for the quarter, though EBITDA falls 2.8 percent to S$1.23 billion due to higher handset subsidies from customer acquisition and recontracts.

Singtel has reported a 11 percent climb in net profit and 3.8 percent increase in revenue for its third-quarter results, but EBITDA (earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortization) falls 2.8 percent on higher customer acquisition cost.

For the quarter ended December 31, the Singapore telco said its group net profit hit S$970 million (US$714.2 million) while revenue clocked at S$4.43 billion. It attributed the growth to its mobile customer base, higher equipment sales, and new revenue from acquisitions in digital life business.

Revenue from the business unit more than doubled due to Amboee's investments in Adconion and Kontera, which were both acquired in June last year for US$385 million. Integration with the two buys were completed during the quarter.

EBITDA ended lower at S$1.23 billion, dragged down by handset subsidies on higher customer acquisition and recontracts in its local consumer business, Singtel said. The group's consumer revenue grew 4 percent, while its Singapore consumer revenue increased 7 percent on higher equipment sales--which climbed 36 and TV revenue.

Equipment sales had climbed by 37 percent, driven by more customers upgrading to newer smartphones and higher tiered mobile plans. This further pushed the telco's mobile subscription base and data revenue, and helped buffer lower consumption of voice and SMS, in particular, roaming.

Singtel's mobile customer base across its Singapore and regional markets, including Optus in Australia, grew 9 percent to 543 million compared to the previous year. Pre-tax earnings from its regional mobile associates, which include India's Bharti Airtel, Indonesia's Telkomsel and the Philippines' Globe Telecom, climbed 27.6 percent to S$646 million for the quarter.

Noting that the company's performance was boosted by higher mobile data revenues, Singtel Group CEO Chua Sock Koong said: "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.

"The regional mobile associates also saw significant takeup of mobile data with higher smartphone penetration," Chua said.

Its enterprise business clocked a 3 percent growth in revenue, excluding fiber deployments and maintenance business, and enjoyed higher adoption of the Singapore government's private cloud infrastructure, G-Cloud. Six government agencies were added to the cloud platform, Singtel said.