SingTel profit down 32 percent despite Optus turnaround

Singapore Telecommunications Ltd. (SingTel) posted net profit of S$792 million (Approx AUD$794 million) for the first half of fiscal 2002, 31.7 percent lower than the S$1.19 billion net profit for the same period last year, the company said in a statement Thursday.

Weak economic conditions in Singapore held back the company's growth, although its Australian subsidiary performed strongly, the company said in the statement.

Revenue for the six months ended Sept. 30 reached S$4.92 billion compared to S$2.49 billion for the same period last year, when Optus results were not included. SingTel's revenue in Singapore fell by 4.7 percent from the year before, while Optus recorded a 12 percent revenue rise, according to the statement.

Growth areas for SingTel included broadband services, where subscriber numbers and revenue more than doubled, and mobile communications, while revenue from international voice traffic fell sharply and Internet/data services revenue also fell.

SingTel's overseas ventures are becoming increasingly important to its revenue and profit stream, contributing S$320 million to the profit figure, SingTel said. The ventures include Thailand mobile phone operator Advanced Info Services PLC, Globe Telecom Inc. of the Philippines, and Indonesian mobile operator PT. Telekomunikasi Selular.

SingTel and its associate companies now have a combined total of 29 million mobile phone subscribers in the region, making it the largest mobile operator outside China and Japan, SingTel said.

Although regarded as one of the region's healthiest telecommunication operators, SingTel has been unable to persuade investors to share its positive outlook. The company has seen its stock price slide to S$1.40 now from S$2.42 last year when it announced its takeover of Optus.

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