Asian mobile giant SingTel reported a 7.7 percent rise in net profit to SGD945 million (US$653.2 million) in its fiscal first quarter on the back of strength at its wholly-owned subsidiaries in Singapore (SingTel) and Australia (Optus). However, group revenue for the quarter ended 30 June rose only 1.9 percent to SGD3.78 billion, a factor SingTel blamed on the weakness of the Australian dollar against the Singapore dollar. Revenue would have increased 12 percent if the Australian dollar had been stable from the corresponding quarter last year, the firm said in a statement. Net profit was below an average forecast of SGD985 million in a Reuters survey of analysts. In a statement, SingTel CEO Chua Sock Koong admitted that the “current operating environment remains a challenge.” However, she added that the group would continue to “explore and monitor investment opportunities.”
In Singapore, SingTel’s revenue increased 10 percent to SGD1.38 billion from SGD1.25 billion a year ago and achieved its highest EBITDA in many years of SGD578 million, an increase of 11 percent. In Australia, Optus reported a 12 percent increase in operating revenue to AUD2.20 billion; overall EBITDA grew 2.1 percent to AUD505 million and net profit grew 13 percent to AUD139 million. Earnings from the group’s regional mobile associates increased 12 percent to SGD624 million, driven by higher contributions from Indonesia’s Telkomsel and India’s Bharti. Kelvin Goh, an analyst at CIMB, told Reuters that “robust performances of Telkomsel and Bharti as well as regional currencies [which had been] swinging back in favour of SingTel” were major factors in the results.