(Refiles to add full name of CEO in last paragraph)
* Q4 net profit S$898 mln vs consensus of S$968 mln
* Profit would have risen 13 pct in constant currency terms
* Group enterprise earnings hurt by stiff competition
SINGAPORE, May 15 (Reuters) - Singapore Telecommunications Ltd’s fourth-quarter net profit climbed 4 percent from a year earlier but came in shy of analysts’ expectations, hurt by unfavourable exchange rates and a lacklustre performance from its group enterprise business.
Earnings at overseas businesses, which now make up 40 percent of the company’s profits, were hit by a slide in the value of the Australian dollar, Indonesian rupiah and Indian rupee against the Singapore dollar. Its net profit would have risen 13 percent in constant currency terms.
Southeast Asia’s largest telecommunications operator said on Thursday that net profit was S$898 million ($720 million) in the January-March quarter, missing an average forecast of S$968 million from five analysts polled by Reuters.
It was its strongest quarter in three quarters but the profit represents only a modest climb from a weak result in the same period a year earlier, when the company was hit by a one-time loss from the sale of its stake in Pakistan’s Warid Telecom.
The company said it expects earnings to be stable in the current 2015 financial year, with capital expenditure estimated at around S$2.3 billion. Its core businesses, which include its Singapore and Australian mobile operations, are expected to see EBITDA increase by a low single digit.
For the fourth quarter, earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were S$1.3 billion, down 9.2 percent from a year earlier. Its group enterprise business, which covers areas like IT services and cloud computing, saw its EBITDA slide 12 percent to S$490 million due to stiff competition on pricing.
The company plans to pay a final dividend of 10 cents a share.
Among its overseas businesses, Indonesia’s Telkomsel saw its EBITDA grow 7 percent but that was outweighed by a 20 percent fall in the rupiah. Its contribution to SingTel profit dropped 11 percent.
Thailand’s Advance Info Service Pcl saw its contribution to SingTel earnings fall 11 percent to S$86 million, hit by the unstable political situation and a 7 percent fall in the Thai baht. SingTel owns just over a fifth of Advance Info.
SingTel said its new growth plans will focus on its digital business and it has allocated as much as S$2 billion for related investments up to the 2016 financial year.
“The group’s combined footprint provides a great platform for our digital services to take off and gain scale,” said Chief Executive Chua Sock Koong. ($1 = 1.2501 Singapore Dollars) (Reporting by Rachel Armstrong; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)