SingTel Q3 net profit rises on strength of regional affiliates

SINGAPORE Wed Feb 12, 2014 6:38pm EST

SINGAPORE Feb 13 (Reuters) - Singapore Telecommunications Ltd beat forecasts with a 6 percent rise in third-quarter net profit, as strength in its regional affiliates helped overcome the negative impact of a volatile foreign currency market.

Southeast Asia's largest telecommunications operator posted a net profit for the Oct.-Dec. quarter of S$872 million ($688.62 million), beating an average forecast of $857 million by five analysts polled by Reuters.

Its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were nearly flat from a year earlier at S$1.26 billion.

The company's operating revenue declined 7.3 percent on the year to S$4.26 billion, hit by the sharp decline in the Australian dollar, it said on Thursday.

SingTel's share of its associates' pre-tax profits saw a strong 11 percent gain, mainly thanks to robust earnings growth from Bharti Airtel Ltd, the top mobile phone operator in India in which SingTel has a 32 percent stake.

Its total number of mobile customers increased 3 percent in the quarter to 501 million, SingTel said.

SingTel's major overseas businesses are in Australia, India and Indonesia. The Australian dollar, the Indonesian rupiah and the Indian rupee declined 9 percent, 18 percent and 12 percent respectively against the Singapore dollar during the quarter.

The company revised guidance on segment performance for the financial year ending March 2014, expecting low double-digit declines in consumer business revenue and low single-digit falls in enterprise business income.

"We have updated our revenue guidance for Group Consumer and Group Enterprise as a result of the weak Australian dollar and the more cautious business environment and spending," Group CEO Chua Sock Koong said in a statement. ($1 = 1.2663 Singapore dollars) (Reporting by Rujun Shen; Editing by Stephen Coates)