Asian operator SingTel reported what it described as a “resilient” fourth quarter, with net profit up 4 per cent year-on-year driven by “robust operating performance from the Singapore Consumer business and the regional mobile associates, led by Airtel”.
The regional mobile associates saw “good progress” in their 3G network rollout and growth in mobile data services, the company said. SingTel’s share of pre-tax earnings from these units increased 9 per cent to SGD558 million ($445.8 million), and would have grown 23 per cent at constant currency.
The Singapore Consumer unit saw a 5 per cent increase in sales, with continued growth in mobile and TV services. Mobile revenue grew with increased take-up of tiered 4G data plans and higher data usage.
For the fourth quarter, profit was SGD898 million, up 3.5 per cent year-on-year, on revenue of SGD4.13 billion, down 7.9 per cent. The company cited the weakening of the Australian dollar and regional currencies against the Singapore dollar – at constant currency, profit would have increased by 12.7 per cent and revenue decreased by 1.1 per cent.
Also noted was lower consumer revenue in Australia, and lower revenue from the Group Enterprise division.
In Australia, Optus’ 4G coverage reached 75 per cent of the metro population, with 3G at 98 per cent of the national population. Revenue in Australian dollars declined 5 per cent, due mainly to lower mobile incoming revenue and lower equipment sales.
Group Enterprise revenue declined by 3 per cent “as the business environment remained cautious and pricing competition was keen”.
For its other operations, Group Digital Live revenue increased 73 per cent to SGD50 million, with strong momentum in mobile advertising. Amobee’s ad revenue grew 170 per cent to SGD35 million in the quarter, more than double the growth rate of global mobile advertising spend.
As previously reported, SingTel is allocating “up to SGD2 billion” for investments in the digital space in the period to 2016.
“The mobile internet is growing, fuelled by increasing smartphone penetration and better networks. The Group’s combined footprint provides a great platform for our digital services to take off and gain scale. These services will bring new revenue streams, help our associates differentiate themselves and strengthen their leadership in their markets,” said Chua Sock Koong, group CEO at SingTel.