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Ouch: Optus Profit, Revenues Tumble Q1

Ouch: Optus Profit, Revenues Tumble Q1

Optus endured a disappointing quarter as operating revenues slipped 3% to A$2.24 billion in Q1.

Optus blamed lower equipment sales in Q1, mandated 3c reduction in the mobile termination rates (effective from 1 January) and service credits on device repayments for the revenue slump in April-June period.

The telco’s net profit also fell 3.2% to $916m – telling a different story to the Telstra results released last week, which showed 5.4% hike in profit to $3.4bn.

Optus’ free cash flow declined to A$50 million, impacted by tax payments, workforce restructuring costs and higher capital expenditure – small change compared to Telstra $5,197 million cash flow figure to 30 June.

Mobile operating revenue also fell 4% to A$1.43 billion, although EBITDA margin was stable on lower traffic costs and reduced selling expenses.

Optus added 88,000 net Postpaid customers for the quarter, with internet customers comprising 56% of its total customer base, up 2% from a year ago.

However, there was a drop in its prepaid base of 65,000 bringing Optus’ total customer base to 9.51m as of 30 June.

Yield management initiatives and reducing prepaid device subsidies contributed to a decline in prepaid numbers.

By comparision, Telstra’s FY12 results showed its mobile business is booming, and increased its Next G mobile customer base by 1.6m over the past 12 months, now totalling 13.8m.

Optus’ No.1 rival’s total revenue rose 1.1% to $25.4bn -with mobile Telstra’s main driver of revenue growth – rising 8.5% to $8.7bn, meaning the blue telco still maintains its position as Australia top carrier.

On the broadband front, Optus 3G subscribers rose 3% to 6.82 million, and includes 1.57 m wireless customers.

‘On-net’ broadband customers totalled 993,000 – up 15,000, although revenues also slumped 6%, blamed on lower ARPU from increased broadband data inclusions and lower telephony usage.

Telstra has more than doubled Optus’ number of broadband customers at 2.6m users -adding 203,000 in 12 months.

The Singapore owned telco says it is focused on “growing its business profitably and delivering positive customer experience,” but has cut staff by 475 and lowered device subsidies.

Total operating expenses fell 3 per cent, mainly driven by lower selling and administrative expenses, cost of sales and traffic expenses, although partially offset by higher staff costs.

Optus also cited major investments in its new 4G network, including its U900 spectrum migration programme and upgrading 3G indoor coverage in Q1. It said the acquisition of Vividwireless and the site sharing agreement with Vodafone will result in a 20% increase in the number of mobile sites.

Optus’ Singapore based owners SingTel reported group net profit of S$945 million – up 3% – for the first quarter due improved performance from the regional mobile associates.

As at 30 June 2012, the Group had a total mobile customer base of 462 million, an increase of 11 per cent.

“The Group delivered a resilient performance this quarter despite regional currency headwinds and operating challenges inIndia. This reflected the strength of diversity of the Group’s operations,” said Ms Chua Sock Koong, SingTel Group CEO.

“We are embracing the changes in our industry by strengthening our telco business and establishing new growthplatforms in the digital space.”

“The new organisational structure has settled down well. Our new business units will extendour customer proposition into adjacent industries, new customer segments and geographical markets.”