Roaming and offshore businesses power Telstra, Singtel results

A surge in mobile revenue and offshore contributions have powered the latest results from Telstra and Singtel.

Telstra reported a 6.4% increase in first-half revenue to 11.6 billion Australian dollars (US$8.0 billion), with an 11.4% hike in earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) to AU$3.9 billion ($2.69 billion).

Mobile was the main engine behind the growth, much of it derived from the return of international travelers and roaming. CFO Michael Ackland said roaming revenue grew by around AU$100 million ($69 million) and is now at 70% of pre-COVID levels. It helped to drive mobile service revenue 9.3% higher and postpaid average revenue per user (ARPU) up by 4.3%.

Mobile revenues, especially from roaming, helped Telstra to strong results.
 (Source: sammy / Alamy Stock Photo)
Mobile revenues, especially from roaming, helped Telstra to strong results.
(Source: sammy / Alamy Stock Photo)

The mobile segment also had an assist from the massive customer data leak at rival Optus in September, adding "low to mid tens of thousands" of new customers, Ackland told a briefing Thursday.

Another assist came from new regional mobile subsidiary Digicel Pacific, acquired by Telstra as a favor to, and largely funded by, the Australian government. Digicel's revenue grew 7% to AU$356 million ($246 million) with a healthy EBITDA margin of 45.8%. On the back of the Digicel contribution, the international business now accounts for around 10% of total EBITDA, Telstra said.

Fixed-line below expectations

But the fixed-line business continued to struggle, with the enterprise group declining 2.5%, mainly due to its shrinking data and connectivity segment, which dropped 14.4%. Ackland said the "below expectations" results from the fixed-line products, along with the lower-than-expected sales of mobile devices, meant full-year income would likely be at the bottom end of guidance.

In Singapore, Singtel's Q3 net profit spiked 18% to 559 million Singapore dollars (US$419 million), mostly on the back of gains by Airtel.

The Indian affiliate more than doubled its pre-tax contribution and, along with other Singtel's other Asian operators, added SG$557 million ($417 million) to the pre-tax total, up 19% from 2021. The return of roaming in Singapore and Australia and a stronger performance from ICT unit NCS meant that underlying operating revenue was up 6%.

Singtel estimated that the Optus data leak had cost 65,000 postpaid customers and shaved S$10 million from the Australian operator's contribution. But the incident had been contained in the quarter and Optus began growing its customer base in December.

CEO Yuen Kuan Moon said Optus' recovery of customer trust was one of the "distinct positives" from the quarter, along with the rebound in roaming and Airtel's strong growth.

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— Robert Clark, Contributing Editor, special to Light Reading

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