SGX Market Updates

SingTel, NetLink & StarHub Unveil March Quarter Results


PUBLISHED ON |

03 June 2020

  • After seeing its unit price decline to S$0.785 on 23 March, NetLink NBN Trust has revisited its S$1.03 all-time high on 29 May. The Fibre Optic Business Trust listed in July 2017 with an IPO price of S$0.81 a unit. 

  • NetLink Trust reported 4QFY20 (to 31 Mar) revenue grew 5.2% YoY, with FY20 revenue up 4.7% YoY and FY20 DPU up 3.5% YoY at S$0.0505. For the March Quarter, NetLink Trust reported stronger earnings than SingTel and StarHub. With a 12% total return, the Trust also outpaced the two companies in 2020 YTD.  Together the trio have averaged a 6% decline in 2020 YTD.

  • For the March quarter, both SingTel and StarHub reported lower revenues were impacted by weaker consumer spending following COVID-19. Both companies have also withdrawn guidance for coming quarters until more clarity emerges in the operating environment.




The three largest telecommunications service providers on SGX – SingTel, NetLink NBN Trust and StarHub averaged a decline in total return of 5.7% over the first five months of 2020, following there average total return of 13.0% in 2019. From 23 March through to 29 May, the trio averaged a 18.4% total return. M1 delisted in March 2019, after local conglomerate Keppel Corporation and media company Singapore Press Holdings jointly bought out Malaysian telecoms provider Axiata Group’s 28.7% stake in M1. 

Last month, Singtel and NetLink NBN Trust unveiled earnings for the fourth quarter ended 31 March 2020, while StarHub, which opted to report results on a half-yearly basis, provided a business update for the quarter. Singtel and NetLink Trust will move to half-yearly reporting from the start of their new financial year.



SINGTEL (SGX:Z74)


SingTel - Earnings Highlights

For the quarter ended 31 March 2020, Singtel’s operating revenue fell 10% YoY to S$3.9 billion, hit by lower mobile service revenue and equipment sales and as well as the onset of COVID-19 in February.

Underlying net profit decreased 15% to S$594 million, hit by pronounced weakness in its Australia business in the fourth quarter, due to continued data price competition and weak consumer sentiment. Net profit after tax declined 26% to S$574 million, following exceptional losses from a provision for Airtel’s regulatory demands on license fees and spectrum charges. Singtel’s regional associates continued to drive data usage growth, with pre-tax contributions rising 29% to S$500 million in the quarter. 

SINGTEL 4QFY20
(S$M)
YoY Chg
(%)
FY20
(S$M)
YoY Chg
(%)
Operating revenue 3,899 -10 16,542 -5
Underlying net profit after tax 594 -15 2,457 -13
Net profit after tax (NPAT)* 574 -26 1,075 -65

* Includes exceptional losses from Airtel for provisions for regulatory demands after adverse Indian Supreme Court ruling.
Source: Company data



SingTel - Outlook
  • COVID-19 impact:
    • Severe reduction in roaming; lower prepaid volumes; lower equipment sales and supply chain disruption.
    • Reduced enterprise and advertising spend.
    • Slower payments from customers.
    • Lockdown has accelerated unprecedented take-up rates for digital services by both consumers and enterprises trying to meet business demands.
  • Regional associates’ performance:
    • Lockdowns introduced across their markets in March may impact upcoming results.
    • Investments in network and digital infrastructure are paying off as customers strive to stay connected during the pandemic.
    • Price war and consolidation in the Indian telecoms market over last two years has turned the corner; Airtel has gained share in a three-player market.
  • Positioning the business for longer term:
    • Continue multi-year 5G capex programme to strengthen network and market leadership, so as to create new revenue opportunities.
    • Drive digital and enterprise growth with associates.
    • Scale digital ICT services and cybersecurity.
    • To provide FY21 financial outlook when there is greater clarity in the operating environment.
  • Group financial position remains healthy:
    • Net debt stood at S$12.5 billion, including S$2.1 billion of lease liabilities recognised under new accounting standards.
    • Strengthened liquidity with S$4.2 billion raised through credit facilities in April.
    • FY20 free cash flow rose 4% to S$3.8 billion.

Click here for the full results statement. 



NETLINK NBN TRUST (SGX:CJLU)


NetLink Trust - Earnings Highlights 

For the quarter ended 31 March 2020, revenue gained 5.2% YoY to S$92.4 million, driven by higher residential connections and diversion revenue, but partially offset by lower installation-related revenue, as well as ducts and manholes service revenue.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) declined 11.2% to S$55.8 million, following a one-time write-off of capitalised project cost from a discontinued IT system replacement project. For FY20, distributions per unit (DPU) rose 3.5% YoY to 5.05 Singapore cents.

Driven by the stronger operating performance, NetLink’s net cash from operating activities rose to S$262.5 million in FY20, up from S$229.6 million in FY19.

NETLINK NBN TRUST 4QFY20
(S$M)
YoY Chg
(%)
FY20
(S$M)
YoY Chg
(%)
Revenue 92.4 5.2 370.2 4.7
EBITDA 55.8 -11.2 258.4 4.3
Profit after tax 12.5 -37.7 78.1 1.0
Distribution Per Unit (SG cent) 5.05 3.5

Source: Company data 



NetLink Trust - Outlook
  • Residential strategy:
    • Connect households not on fibre via initiatives such as IMDA’s Home Access programme for low-income households.
    • Connect new homes.
  • Non-Residential and Non-Building Address Points (NBAP) strategy:
    • Prepare to support 5G infrastructure.
    • Customised offerings for SMEs.
    • Improve presence in major data centres.
    • Make NBAP easier and faster to deploy.
  • COVID-19 impact:
    • Pandemic has presented some temporary operational issues for the Group.
    • The restriction on contractors’ foreign workforce, which included a mandatory Stay Home Order (SHO) on construction sector workers, has affected its capacity to fulfil service requests in late April and May 2020.
    • The temporary delays in fulfilling service requests are not expected to have material impact on revenue.
    • With its extensive nationwide fibre network, the Group is well-positioned to support Smart Nation initiatives, the Punggol Digital District and Jurong Innovation District.
    • Look forward to working with mobile network operators through use of its nationwide fibre network to accelerate the realisation of IMDA’s objectives to achieve pervasive deployment of 5G infrastructure.

Click here for the full results statement. 



STARHUB(SGX:CC3)


StarHub - Earnings Highlights 

For the quarter ended 31 March 2020, StarHub reported a 15.2% YoY fall in total revenue to S$506.2 million and a 25.7% decrease in attributable net profit to S$40.2 million. Service revenue declined 8.9% to S$404.9 million as a result of lower revenues from Mobile, Broadband and Pay TV. The Enterprise business recorded a 13.9% increase in revenue to S$152.8 million, led mainly by a 136.8% jump in Cybersecurity Services revenue to S$62.4 million.

With border controls and movement restrictions, roaming, IDD and prepaid revenues have been significantly reduced. Its Enterprise business has also experienced some project and tender delays, coupled with longer sales cycles. However, its Cybersecurity business saw continued growth and reported a modest profit this quarter.

STARHUB 1QFY20
(S$M)
YoY Chg
(%)
Total revenue 506.2 -15.2
Service revenue 404.9 -8.9
EBITDA 136.2 -15.9
Attributable net profit 40.2 -25.7

Source: Company data



StarHub - Outlook
  • COVID-19 impact:
    • The pandemic is expected to have a material impact on the Group’s revenue and profitability for the year, with varying degrees of revenue declines expected for most business segments.
    • The budgetary measures provided for by the Singapore Government have supported the maintenance of jobs, cash flow and mitigated some revenue impact.
  • Financial position:
    • Successfully negotiated the refinancing of bank loans due for repayment this year, after which there will be no refinancing required until 2022.
    • It also has adequate credit facilities to manage its working capital and other funding requirements, with expectations to sustain positive operating cash flow generation this year.
    • Reviewing discretionary expenditure remains a priority.
    • In view of the uncertainty, it withdraws all guidance for 2020, and will update shareholders once there is greater visibility on COVID-19 impact.
  • 5G strategy:
    • Announced on 29 April 2020 that it has received the provisional 5G licence from IMDA.
    • Its strategic co-operation with M1 will allow both companies to optimise infrastructure and spectrum costs.
    • Intends to fast-track the rollout of 5G services – its two-pronged deployment includes the standalone architecture using the 3.5GHz spectrum, and non-standalone architecture utilising the 800MHz mmWave spectrum.
    • Regulator expects to award full licences by 1H2020.
    • More details on StarHub’s 5G services will be released closer to commercial readiness.
  • IT transformation:
    • Optimise IT operations, lower costs and accelerate technology transformation.
    • Rationalise IT platforms and systems; deliver agile, new capability.
    • Cost savings built into three-year cost programme (cost savings of > S$210 million identified).
  • Strateq acquisition:
    • Strateq is a leading end-to-end data driven IT solutions provider with growing international presence.
    • Asset light, complementary and scalable digital capabilities.
    • Growth and diversification opportunities in existing and new markets.
    • Acquisition expected to complete by 1H 2020.

Click here for the full results statement.







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