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Edited Transcript of Z74.SI earnings conference call or presentation 13-Feb-20 12:30am GMT

Q3 2020 Singapore Telecommunications Ltd Earnings Presentation (Pre-recorded)

Comcentre Feb 14, 2020 (Thomson StreetEvents) -- Edited Transcript of Singapore Telecommunications Ltd earnings conference call or presentation Thursday, February 13, 2020 at 12:30:00am GMT

TEXT version of Transcript

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Corporate Participants

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* Sock Koong Chua

Singapore Telecommunications Limited - Group CEO, Executive & Non-Independent Director and Member of Optus Advisory Committee

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Presentation

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Sock Koong Chua, Singapore Telecommunications Limited - Group CEO, Executive & Non-Independent Director and Member of Optus Advisory Committee [1]

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Thank you for joining us for Singtel's Results for the Third Quarter and 9 Months Ended December 31, 2019. Our results reflect the intense competition and ongoing carriage erosion in our markets. Performance in the enterprise segment was impacted by weaker business sentiment amidst the economic slowdown. We are making important investments and pivoting our strategy to navigate these headwinds and drive long-term growth.

In the core business, investments in network and technology remain central. Optus was named Australia's strongest brand, a validation of its network enhancement and improved market position. Its 5G network now serves customers with more than 400 sites in Australia.

In Singapore, we will be submitting our 5G proposal to the government. The digitalization of our services and processes has helped us to better engage customers and realize cost savings of SGD 359 million for the 9 months. We are focused on building capabilities and increasing the scale of our digital businesses.

In the ICT space, the NCS and Trustwave grew their order books. We took measures to stabilize the enterprise business in Australia, which strengthened its order book from a quarter ago. Amobee's performance was affected by clients' spending cuts and declines in managed media advertising. It will continue to leverage its technology platform to grow its programmatic advertising business.

Revenue fell 3% in constant currency, reflecting challenging market conditions and weak business and consumer sentiment. An increase in NBN migration revenue in Australia and cost management initiatives lifted the group's EBITDA. Airtel narrowed its pretax losses with improved performances from India and Africa. Globe turned in strong revenue and earnings growth, contributions from Telkomsel fell with intense competition outside Java.

Underlying net profit declined 19%, a result of weaker enterprise contributions and finalization of investment gains on our pre-IPO investment in Airtel Africa. Net profit fell 24% as higher exceptional income was recorded last year. Free cash flow rose primarily driven by positive working capital movements and increased NBN migration revenue offsetting higher capital expenditure in Australia.

The group's financial position remains healthy. Our credit ratings places among the highest-rated telcos globally. Net debt stood at SGD 12.4 billion, including the recognition of SGD 2.3 billion of lease liabilities under Singapore Financial Reporting Standards International for leases. Favorable working capital movements, NBN migration revenue and lower tax payments helped lift free cash flow by 8%.

Moving on to the simple consumer business. Mobile equipment revenue declined due to timing differences in handset launches and an increased mix of SIM only plans. Service revenue was impacted by continued voice erosion. Fixed revenue improved on steady growth in broadband, while TV was up slightly. Despite the decline in revenue, EBITDA held steady, reflecting digitalization initiatives and content cost management. Consumer Australia revenue increased 1%, with higher NBN migration revenue, offsetting lower equipment sales. Increases in mobile market pricing and unbundling of handsets from mobile service plans have moderated customer additions and equipment sales.

Mobile service revenue declined, reflecting a higher proportion of SIM-only customers and data price competition. Mobile ARPU fell from last year but stabilized for the second consecutive quarter. Postpaid customer base has increased by 52,000, while prepaid was boosted by the onboarding of a new MVNO. The NBN broadband customer base rose 77,000, driving an increase in traffic costs and lower retail fixed margins. EBITDA grew 10%, mainly from higher NBN migration revenue. Excluding NBN migration revenue, EBITDA declined 22%, with lower margins on equipment sales and the retail fixed business.

Moving to group enterprise. The quarter's performance was impacted by cautious business sentiment from a slower economy, continued carriage erosion and intense price competition. In Australia, we also faced increased competition with new entrants reselling NBN. Optus business' revenue and EBITDA fell year-on-year, but on a sequential quarter basis, it posted higher revenue and EBITDA and improved its order book as we took measures to stabilize the business.

Excluding Australia, ICT revenue increased 5% on strong growth from NCS, Trustwave and data center services. Overall EBITDA was impacted by margin erosion in the carriage business and an increased mix of ICT services. Including Australia, group enterprise revenue would have been stable and EBITDA, a smaller decline of 5%.

Group digital life revenue declined 15% due to spending cuts by Amobee's largest clients and declines in its legacy businesses. These trends are expected to persist in the next quarter. Amobee continues to scale its programmatic businesses, shifting its mix from legacy services as new clients integrate their campaigns onto its marketing platform.

EBITDA losses narrowed as Amobee delivered to a contract milestone for its ITV deal and strengthened cost management. Pretax contributions from the regional associates grew 15%, with strong data growth across associates. Telecom sales results were impacted by intense competition outside Java to remain competitive and defend share. Telkomsel introduced a fully digital brand and generous data packages in the quarter.

In India, Airtel losses narrowed on the back of strong 4G customer additions and upgrading coupled with price increases, which are expected to drive ARPU growth in coming quarters. Airtel Africa maintained its growth momentum in carriage and mobile money services. The stronger operating performances mitigated higher costs and depreciation. Airtel further strengthened its balance sheet, raising USD 3 billion through a share placement and convertible bond issue. AIS' revenue rose on device sales with handset launches and subscriber gains, offset by the higher cost of sales and marketing expenses. In the Philippines, Globe maintained its strong growth momentum in mobile and broadband services.

The group has updated its outlook for the current financial year, taking into account the results for the first 9 months. Revenue is expected to be stable, and EBITDA is expected to decrease by low single digits. Excluding NBN migration revenues in Australia, revenue and EBITDA are expected to decline by mid-single digits and low teens, respectively.

We are guiding for free cash flow of approximately SGD 2.3 billion, while dividends from associates are anticipated to be around SGD 1.3 billion. The outlook for the other items remains unchanged. And this concludes my presentation for this quarter. Thank you.