Thai telco DTAC profits slip 76 percent on network expenses

BANGKOK, July 16 (Reuters) - Thailand’s third largest mobile operator, Total Access Communication Pcl (DTAC) reported on Monday a 76 percent drop in second-quarter earnings due to higher expenses and network investment.

DTAC reported net profits of 179 million baht ($5.38 million) in the three months ending in June versus 743 million baht a year earlier, missing estimates of 257 million baht based on a Reuters survey of four analysts.

DTAC said the drop in profits was due to a payment of 840 million baht to state-owned TOT for roaming services on the 4G-2300MHz network, bringing operating costs up 71 percent from a year earlier.

Service revenue was down 2.3 percent to 16 billion baht and DTAC expects it to be around the same level as the previous year at 16.4 billion baht.

DTAC expects earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITA) margin between 34 and 36 percent for 2018, from the current levels of 40.4 percent.

DTAC lost 200,000 subscribers this quarter, down 8.4 percent from a year ago.

Analysts have said DTAC was losing market share due to spectrum inferiority.

Last month, DTAC said it was “in dialogue” with regulators for a 37.99 billion baht spectrum auction for the 900 MHz spectrum to be held in August.

The mobile operator, which is 43 percent owned by Norway’s Telenor Group, has concession on two separate licences on the 850 MHz and 1800 MHz spectrum which are set to expire in September.

DTAC plans capital expenditure of 15-18 billion baht to expand its coverage this year and a dividend policy of at least 50 percent of net profits. ($1 = 33.2700 baht) (Reporting by Chayut Setboonsarng, editing by Emelia Sithole-Matarise)