SINGAPORE: Singapore Telecom-munications Ltd (Singtel) cut its expected dividend after profit slumped to the lowest since 1993. The carrier booked a charge for costs related to its investment in an India-based carrier and said the coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic crimped mobile service revenue. Its shares fell in early trading yesterday.
Net income plunged 65% to S$1.08bil (US$761mil) in the year ended March, the company said yesterday in a statement before trading hours. That compares with the S$1.28bil average of analyst estimates. The carrier will pay a 12.25 Singapore cents a share dividend for the year, compared with the company’s previous outlook for 17.5 Singapore cents a share.
Singtel, which gets more than half its revenue outside Singapore, has been facing intensifying competition in overseas markets where it has invested in operators including Bharti Airtel in India and Australia-based Optus.
The Singapore-based carrier yesterday said it took a net exceptional charge of S$302mil for costs related to Bharti Airtel’s spectrum fees. The India-based carrier has faced airwave and licence fees after the country’s operators lost a court case.
“Adverse regulatory outcomes in India and the onset of Covid-19 in the fourth quarter” resulted in a challenging fiscal year, Singtel Group chief executive officer Chua Sock Koong said in the statement.
The lower dividend “is a negative surprise for the street”, Arthur Pineda and Hussaini Saifee, analysts at Citigroup Global Markets Inc, wrote in a note to clients. — Bloomberg
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