The revival in international travel sparked a 77% jump in roaming revenue and a higher margin for Hutchison, despite the uncertain economic environment.

Robert Clark, Contributing Editor, Special to Light Reading

March 5, 2024

2 Min Read
High-rise buildings in Hong Kong.
The Hong Kong-based operator has benefited from rebounding local economy and resumption of international travel.(SOURCE: SEAN PAVONE/ALAMY STOCK PHOTO)

The post-pandemic rebound in roaming and a stronger local economy have boosted Hutchison Telecom's topline numbers but not enough to lift it out of the red.

The Hong Kong operator narrowed its full-year loss to 52 million Hong Kong dollars (US$6.7 million), down 67% from the HK$158 million ($20 million) deficit in 2022.

Total revenue was flat at HK$4.90 billion ($626 million), despite an 8% gain in service revenue and a 77% spike in roaming to HK$526 million ($67 million). EBITDA advanced 3% to HK$1.46 billion ($186.6 million) thanks to a 7% higher margin, but this was offset by rising costs from network expansion and upgrade projects, the company said.

CEO Kenny Koo said Hutchison had "benefited from the return to normalcy and resumption of international travel in 2023, reporting encouraging growth in roaming service revenue and a decent increase in service revenue."

Prepaid subs growth

Hutchison said postpaid ARPU grew 4% to HK$174 ($22.2), with its new premium brand Supreme achieving ARPU two and a half times higher than other segments.             

Its mobile and home broadband customer base expanded from 3.3 million to 4.0 million customers, mostly through an increase in prepaid subs, in particular from its all-you-can-eat 4G brand SoSIM.

The company said it had taken steps to improve service quality and enhance its networks over the year to stay competitive in an uncertain environment. The board said it was pleased with the improvement in profitability and was optimistic about the near-term outlook.

Hutchison's result mirrors those of rivals HKT and PCCW last month. Both also enjoyed a spike in roaming revenue and EBITDA but were unable to translate that to the bottom line. Hutchison Telecom stock fell 0.93% in trading on the HKSE Tuesday.

Meanwhile, mainland operators China Telecom and China Unicom both announced double digit earnings gains in their preliminary full-year results on Tuesday.

China Telecom, China's second largest telco, reported a 10% rise in net profit to 30.4 billion Chinese yuan (US$4.2 billion) on 7% higher sales of RMB507.8 billion ($70.5 billion). China Unicom said net earnings would be RMB18.7 billion ($2.6 billion), up 12%, with revenue 5% higher at RMB372.6 billion ($51.8 billion).

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About the Author(s)

Robert Clark

Contributing Editor, Special to Light Reading

Robert Clark is an independent technology editor and researcher based in Hong Kong. In addition to contributing to Light Reading, he also has his own blog,  Electric Speech (http://www.electricspeech.com). 

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