StarHub net profit up by SG$19.1m

StarHub's net profit grew to SG$92.8 million, on EBITDA of SG$183.4 million and revenue of SG$590.9 million, with gains in broadband and enterprise fixed services.

Singaporean telecommunications provider StarHub has announced its financial results for the quarter ending March 31, 2016, reporting net profit of SG$92.8 million, up 25.9 percent from the SG$73.7 million reported for the same period in 2015.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) was SG$183.4 million, up 13.2 percent from last year's SG$162.1 million, while revenue sat at SG$590.9 million, down 4.4 percent year on year from the SG$617.9 million announced in the same quarter for FY15.

The company had cash and cash equivalents of SG$270.7 million, up by 20.6 percent from the SG$224.5 million last year, and free cash flow of SG$89.9 million, a reversal from last year's negative SG$46.3 million.

Breaking down its revenue by category, StarHub made SG$298.1 million from mobile, down 2.4 percent; SG$94.9 million from pay TV, down 1.2 percent; SG$53.5 million from broadband, up 11.3 percent; and SG$95.8 million from enterprise fixed, up 5.4 percent. Enterprise fixed revenue was further broken down into data and internet, which contributed SG$82.1 million, while voice services added SG$13.7 million.

StarHub attributed its lower mobile revenue to decreased pricing for local voice and international roaming services. As of the end of March, its post-paid customer base numbered 1.344 million, up 3.3 percent or 43,000 people from last year's 1.301 million, while prepaid customers stood at 855,000, up 1.1 percent or 9,000 customers from the 846,000 reported a year before. Its total mobile market share in Singapore is now 26.7 percent, up 0.1 percent since last year.

Post-paid monthly average revenue per user (ARPU) was up by SG$1, to SG$69, while ARPU for prepaid mobile fell by the same amount, from SG$16 down to SG$17.

Revenue from pay TV was down, after StarHub sustained a loss of 17,200 customers over the year. Total pay TV customers now number 528,000, with ARPU remaining stable, at SG$51.

Broadband revenue growth was driven by increased take-up of higher-speed plans, according to StarHub. Broadband residential subscription customers numbered 473,000, the same as a year ago, while the company added 105,000 broadband fibre subscription customers over the year, up to 298,000. ARPU for broadband was also up, from SG$33 to SG$36.

"StarHub's continual focus on our customers' needs have paid off, not only in our business results but also in the latest third-party CSISG findings which measured customer satisfaction across sectors in Singapore," said StarHub CEO Tan Tong Hai.

"We are especially pleased to see continued growth in our broadband revenue for the fifth sequential quarter. We also witnessed a steady increase in the enterprise fixed revenue, and are on track to grow this business to be the second-largest contributor to our growth story."

Operating expenses were SG$485.9 million, down 9.1 percent from last year's SG$534.7 million, while the company's total capital expenditure commitments amounted to SG$305.8 million as of the end of March. This capex included the SG$80 million balance yet to be paid for acquiring 4G spectrum rights, as well as the cost of extending and upgrading its network infrastructure and IT and business support systems.

For the remainder of the 2016 calendar year, StarHub said it expects revenue growth in the low single digits.

StarHub last month said that it had attained 4G indoor speeds of up to 1Gbps in partnership with Chinese tech giant Huawei, using the latter's small cell technology.

"There is more we can do to get better mileage out of our existing wireless spectrum," StarHub CTO Mock Pak Lum said in April.

"We are closely tracking the development of this new small cell solution to help us enhance network quality quickly and cost-efficiently, providing customers with much faster data speeds even within buildings and in crowded areas."

StarHub also signed a memorandum of understanding with China Mobile International to collaborate on such things as research initiatives for evolving mobile network technologies; strengthening capabilities for complementary data business services; cooperating and sharing information on international mobile roaming; and developing business opportunities in relation to the Internet of Things (IoT).

StarHub rival and Singapore's incumbent telco Singtel is due to present its financial results on May 12.