Philippines-based PLDT forecast revenue growth to slow in the current quarter after booking double-digit mobile gains in Q1, and trimmed an aggressive capex budget due to Covid-19 (coronavirus)-related restrictions slowing network activities.

Net profit fell 12 per cent year-on-year to PHP5.91 billion ($116.9 million), attributed to higher losses from its equity share in Voyager Innovations and investment in Rocket Internet.

Total revenue increased 7.7 per cent to PHP41.8 billion, driven by data and broadband services (particularly on its mobile network), which accounted for 71 per cent of total turnover.

Manuel Pangilinan, chairman and CEO, said there will be likely some softening of revenue growth in the current quarter, but noted “overall, we expect revenues to stay on the growth path versus last year”.

With its network rollout activities constrained by a nationwide quarantine, the operator expects to reduce its original 2020 capex guidance of PHP83 billion by 20 per cent to 25 per cent.

Driven by mobile
Mobile data turnover jumped 33 per cent to PHP15.5 billion, fuelling a 13 per cent increase in service revenue to PHP23.2 billion. SMS fell 30 per cent to PHP1.8 billion, while a 19 per cent drop in international roaming led to a 7 per cent decline in voice to PHP5.54 billion.

Subscriber numbers at the mobile unit increased 14.3 per cent to 73.1 million. It added more than 9 million prepaid and about 121,000 post-paid users. Smart Communications’ prepaid ARPU declined 1.8 per cent to PHP112, while post-paid was broadly stable at PHP804.

The operator added 1,400 4G base stations, taking the total to about 26,000 at end-March: 3G sites hit around 14,400, with about 700 added.