Singapore Telecommunications 4Q Net Profit Rises 1.8%

By Saurabh Chaturvedi Features Dow Jones Newswires

Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (Z74.SG) said Thursday its fiscal fourth-quarter net profit inched up as higher income from broadband, mobile data and group enterprise services offset the drop in earnings at regional associates.

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Net profit for the January-March quarter stood at 963 million Singapore dollars (US$693 million) compared with S$946 million in same period of last year, Southeast Asia's biggest mobile telecommunications operator by revenue said in a statement to Singapore Exchange.

Underlying net profit, excluding one-off items, rose to S$988 million from S$981 million a year ago. Operating revenue rose 5.2% on year to S$4.31 billion, Singtel said.

The net profit, however, lagged the S$1.06 billion estimated by FactSet.

Singtel's share of pretax earnings from its regional mobile associates fell 6.0% to S$658 million. In constant currency terms, the pretax income would have dropped 7.4%, it said. Singtel owns substantial equity stakes in several mobile operators in Asia, including India's Bharti Airtel Ltd. and Indonesia's Telkomsel.

A sharp earnings drop at the Indian associate in the quarter amid rising competition in the Indian telecom market dented Singtel's results. Excluding contributions from the Indian associate, net profit for the quarter would have risen 9.1% on year and pretax earnings from regional associates would have risen 10%, Singtel said.

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Net profit at Singtel's Australian unit, Optus Pty. Ltd., rose 1.1% to 250 million Australian dollars (US$186 million) from A$247 million a year ago. Revenue at the Australian unit rose 1.6% to A$2.11 billion.

Singtel's free cash flow rose 12.1% to S$764 million from S$681 million in the fourth quarter last year.

Net profit for the full year ended March 31 slipped to S$3.85 billion from S$3.87 billion, Singtel said. Full-year revenue declined to S$16.71 billon from S$16.96 billion. Weaker earnings at the Indian associate weighed on full-year results as well.

Singtel announced a final dividend of 10.7 Singapore cents a share, taking total dividends for the year to 17.5 Singapore cents, broadly unchanged from the previous year.

Singtel said it plans about S$2.6 billion in capital expenditures in the current fiscal year that started April 1, compared with S$2.8 billion in the previous year. The proposed capital expenditures include A$1.5 billion for business in Australia.

Write to Saurabh Chaturvedi at saurabh.chaturvedi@wsj.com

(END) Dow Jones Newswires

May 17, 2017 20:13 ET (00:13 GMT)