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StarHub full-year net profit drops 11% from lowering demand for its core businesses

The telco's mobile, pay TV, and broadband businesses all earned less in 2019 compared to the year prior
Written by Campbell Kwan, Contributor

StarHub's full-year net profit dropped by around 11% year on year to SG$178.6 million due to its core businesses -- mobile, pay TV, and broadband -- all experiencing decreases in revenue

For the full year to December 2019, mobile revenue decreased by 7%, going from SG$824.5 million to SG$765.5 million; pay TV lost one-fifth of its revenue to earn only SG$248 million; and its broadband TV business earned SG$176.4 million, a 5% drop in revenue year on year. 

Services revenue also experienced a slight decrease for the 2019 financial year coming in at SG$1.77 billion -- a 3.7% drop. 

The telco's enterprise business, meanwhile, increased its revenue by 12.6% from the year prior to earn SG$575 million. Out of the company's various businesses, the enterprise business saw the biggest improvement. The uptick was led by the 80% increase in demand from the enterprise business' cybersecurity offerings, which earned SG$145.7 million.

StarHub also sold more equipment year on year, with sales rising from SG$529.6 million to SG$565.5 million. 

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) increased 8.8% to SG$617 million, while operating expenses remained steady at SG$2.09 billion.

Looking at StarHub's fourth quarterly results, StarHub almost doubled its net profit compared to the same period a year ago, rising from SG$15.4 million to SG$33 million. The jump in net profit was largely attributed to the telco's decision to pare down operating expenses however, which decreased by SG$26 million to nearly SG$564 million.

For the three months to December, StarHub's revenue dipped 1.8% to SG$608.4 million year on year.

For its mobile business during the quarter, revenue dropped by 1.8% to just over SG$194 million; pay TV lost over 20% of its revenue year on year, earning only SG$56.5 million; and broadband's revenue went from SG$45.7 million to SG$41 million, a 10.2% decrease.

Despite the dip in mobile revenue, postpaid average revenue per user in its mobile business rose to SG$40, a SG$10 increase from the third quarter. It currently has 1.5 million postpaid customers.

Service revenue, which excludes equipment sales, was also down by 3% to SG$443.7 million during Q4. In terms of equipment sales, the telco sold SG$164.7 million worth of equipment -- a similar amount compared to the same period last year.  

Much like its full-year results, the one bright spot for StarHub during Q4 was its enterprise business, which saw a year-on-year revenue increase of 6.3% to SG$155 million. This uptick was attributed to an additional SG$12 million earned through its cybersecurity services compared to the same period last year. 

"Despite ever-increasing competition, our consumer business has stabilised its quarter-on-quarter revenues for the first time following years of decline," said StarHub CEO Peter Kaliaropoulos.

Earlier this week, StarHub submitted a joint bid with M1 to industry regulator Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) for one of two nationwide 5G standalone networks. Singtel Mobile and TPG also each submitted their own bids to IMDA.

Telcos that are awarded with a licence will be required to deploy the 3.5GHz spectrum band as standalone 5G networks, supporting capabilities such as network slicing and ultra-reliable low latency communications.

For the telcos that miss out on the two 5G licences, the Singapore government said it will still provide two lots of 800MHz mmWave spectrum, which could be used to offer localised 5G services running on their existing 4G networks. Unlike the full-fledged standalone 5G networks however, these smaller networks would offer primarily higher broadband speeds.

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