SK Telecom (SKT), the largest mobile operator in South Korea, posted a sharp increase in profit in the last quarter of 2017 as revenue continued to grow on gains from its broadband and e-commerce businesses.
The operator’s Q4 net profit increased 39 per cent year-on-year to KRW661 billion ($606 million), while revenue rose 3.3 per cent to KRW4.5 trillion. For the full year, its net income rose 60 per cent to KRW2.66 trillion, which it credited to higher equity gains from its investment in SK Hynix. SKT holds about a 20 per cent stake in South Korea’s second largest chipmaker.
SKT, which holds a 48 per cent market share, said despite a rise in contract-based mobile fee discounts, Q4 mobile revenue inched up 1 per cent year-on-year to KRW2.74 trillion due to handset subscriber expansion and data usage growth.
Its mobile subscriber base increased by about 600,000 in 2017 to end December with 30.2 million subs, with LTE users accounting for 75.7 per cent of the total. Mobile ARPU in the recent quarter dipped 0.4 per cent from Q4 2016 to end the year at KPW35,209.
“Despite tough mobile telecommunications market condition last year, SK Telecom managed to bring about visible outcomes in new growth engine areas,” said Ryu Young-Sang, EVP of the company’s corporate centre: “The situation is unlikely to change this year, but we will continue to realise growth in the new ICT sector with some bold approaches.”
Revenue at its broadband and IPTV unit, SK Broadband, grew 8.7 per cent year-on-year in Q4 to KRW837 billion, as broadband subs rose 4.5 per cent year-on-year to 5.4 million and IPTV subs increased 10.2 per cent to 4.4 million. SK Planet, its e-commerce business, reported an 8.7 per cent growth in revenue in Q4 to KRW268 billion.
Capex in 2017 rose 1 per cent to KRW1.98 trillion.