Singapore Telecommunications Limited (SingTel) reported a resilient first quarter operating performance, despite significant investments to support business transformation and currency headwinds. Underlying net profit dipped 2% to S$881 million. In constant currency terms, underlying net profit would have grown 5%.
The Singapore consumer business and regional mobile associates, namely Airtel and Globe, contributed strong growth. The Group s share of the regional mobile associates pre-tax earnings grew 8% to S$594 million. In constant currency terms, this would have increased 20%.
Airtel delivered a sharply improved quarter with strong growth in voice and data, and higher margins in India. The Group s share of Airtel s pre-tax earnings grew 68%. In the Philippines, Globe s pre-tax earnings contribution was up 20%.
The Group and its regional mobile associates continued to register strong customer growth in the quarter. As at 30 June 2014, the combined mobile customer base 1 grew 10% to 525 million from a year ago.
Ms Chua Sock Koong, SingTel Group CEO said, This quarter, the Group reported strong operating results and increased free cash flow. Our regional mobile associates delivered a solid performance. Their markets are experiencing strong growth, spurred by improvements in 3G networks, handsets and content. We are collaborating with our associates to accelerate investments in networks, and launch new data and digital services.
In Singapore and Australia, tiered data plans are gaining traction with customers and driving mobile data usage. At Optus, we saw encouraging sales momentum from the recently launched MyPlan Plus with customer take-up of both SIM-only and data share plans. In Singapore, we introduced the world s first 300 Mbps 4G service and the island s first voice over LTE service, said Ms Chua.
In the digital space, Amobee acquired Adconion, a cross channel digital advertising company with market presence in the USA and Australia, and Kontera, a digital content analytics platform. With Kontera s unique technology and Adconion s relationships with major advertisers, these investments will differentiate and strengthen Amobee s position, added Ms Chua.
The Australian Dollar and regional currencies weakened significantly against the Singapore Dollar, with the Australian Dollar and Indonesian Rupiah declining 5% and 19% respectively from a year ago. However, from a quarter ago, currency movements had stabilised.
Net profit, impacted by exceptional items, declined 17% to S$835 million and would have been down 12% in constant currency terms. In the same quarter last year, an exceptional gain of S$150 million was recognised from the dilution of the Group s stake in Airtel.