XL Axiata, the fourth largest mobile operator in Indonesia, returned to growth in 2017 with a double-digit increase in mobile service revenue driven by data growth, but its profit was flat due to a jump in one-off costs.
The company attributed the strong 2017 performance to the continued success of a transformation agenda it started in 2015 with the aim of positioning the company as a data-centric business. XL Axiata said in a statement the transformation push “is clearly showing results where data constitutes the majority of the company’s service revenue and thus the company is outperforming its peers”.
Its net profit was flat compared with 2016 at IDR375 billion ($27.6 million) due to a sharp rise in one-off expenses as well as a lower forex gain in 2017. The company said excluding the one-offs, its normalised net profit was IDR740 billion.
Total revenue in 2017 rose 7 per cent year-on-year to IDR22.9 trillion. Mobile turnover increased 8 per cent to IDR21.9 trillion, with service revenue growing 10 per cent to IDR20.3 trillion on the back of strong growth in data services: revenue from this area accounted for 75 per cent of total service revenue at end 2017 compared with 58 per cent in Q4 the previous year.
Operating expenses increased 10 per cent to IDR14.6 trillion as sales and marketing expenses grew 13 per cent due to increased promotions for new product launches and campaigns to raise awareness of its improved network quality.
XL Axiata continued to add subscribers in 2017, picking up 6.9 million prepaid subs to take the total to 52.8 million at end-December. Post paid subs rose 32 per cent to 700,000. Its market share has been steady at 12 per cent since end-2015 (its share peaked at 20 per cent in Q4 2014). Blended ARPU dipped 3 per cent to IDR34,000.
Smartphone users jumped 32 per cent year-on-year to 38.3 million at the end of 2017, pushing penetration up 9 percentage points to 72 per cent.
Capex increased 18 per cent year-on-year to IDR6.69 trillion. The operator more than doubled the number of 4G bases stations to 17,000 and added 7,000 3G sites to take its total base station count to 101,000. LTE service is available in 360 cities and towns across Indonesia.