Telecom New Zealand today reported a 32 percent drop in full year net profit but claimed that its toughest times are over as it hopes that new initiatives such as its nationwide HSPA network will help it return to earnings growth. Adjusted full year net profit (to end-June 2009) came in at NZ$483 million (US$330 million), down from NZ$713 million a year earlier. Adjusted revenue for the year dropped 2 percent on the prior year, to NZ$5.6 billion, which it claimed was primarily driven by declines in its Retail and AAPT businesses. The Auckland-based company maintained guidance for the current fiscal year ending June 30, with expected EBITDA in a range of minus 1 percent to growth of 2 percent on fiscal 2009. 

“I think we have completed the hardest two years in the company’s history,” chief executive Dr Paul Reynolds told Dow Jones Newswires. “We’ve landed where we said we’d land.” He added in a company statement that “Telecom is getting it right as we invest and re-build with the aim of returning to earnings growth,” citing May’s launch of its new XT Mobile Network as one “impressive platform” on which “to grow and to secure the long-term health of the business.” Dr Reynolds claimed that the launch of the HSPA network “was a remarkable achievement and surpassed our expectations.” The operator had 165,000 customers on XT by 14 August (approximately 7 percent of its customer base according to Wireless Intelligence data) and showed positive early average usage trends, such as a 20 percent increase in voice traffic, and a 300 percent increase in data download traffic compared to its older CDMA network. Telecom New Zealand’s HSPA network is competing against rival Vodafone and also newcomer 2degrees, which launched earlier this month.