Axiata 3Q net profit dips marginally

KUALA LUMPUR: Axiata Group Bhd’s net profit declined 1% to RM349.56mil in the third quarter ended Sept 30 (3Q21), against RM352.99mil in the same period a year.

This is mainly due to higher depreciation and amortisation and foreign exchange losses, partially offset by higher top lines, lower finance costs on the back of lower borrowings and lower taxes.

Revenue, however, grew by 7.1% to RM6.54bil from RM6.11bil last year. Consequently, earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) grew by 0.7% to RM2.85bil. At a constant currency of 3Q20, revenue and Ebitda would have increased by 7.6% and 1.0% respectively.

Axiata recorded a total revenue of RM18.99bil in the first nine months to Sept 30, up 5.9% compared to the preceding year’s corresponding period.

Net profit for the period improved by 13.16% to RM702.87mil from RM621.11mil a year ago.

The group’s Ebitda increased by 5.5% to RM8.36bil with growth across all operating companies (OpCos).

In a statement, Axiata said its Ebitda growth of 5.5% was largely in line with revenue whilst profit after tax and minority interest (Patami) rose 13.2% flowing through from higher Ebitda and lower net finance cost and taxation, offset by the absence of one-off gains at XL and accelerated depreciation of 3G assets for Celcom Axiata Bhd and Robi. Patami margin was at 3.7%.

In 3Q21, Axiata achieved opex savings of RM378mil and RM815mil in capex year-to-date bringing total cost savings to RM1.2bil.

Its operating free cash flow (OFCF) declined 3.9% to RM2.3bil largely due to XL’s accelerated capex.

The group’s healthy balance sheet with gross debt/Ebitda at 2.49x and cash balance of RM7.3bil continued to work favourably in positioning for new opportunities and growth ventures in the home, enterprise, and digital business segments.

President and group chief executive officer Datuk Izzaddin Idris said: “For the next quarter, we’re keeping a close watch on potential inflationary pressure on SIMs and delay in network equipment delivery due to the global supply chain disruption, macroeconomic and regulatory risks across several markets and slower than expected recovery in Ncell.”

“On 5G rollout in Malaysia, we reiterate our support towards national digital aspirations that will benefit Malaysian consumers and businesses, and it is encouraging that discussions with the Government are moving in the right direction,” he said.

“Business-wise, we’re optimistic about improved data monetisation for Digital Telcos, the sustained growth momentum of Axiata Digital’s businesses as well as a pickup in site roll-outs for edotco with the easing of lockdown restrictions across markets.

“In line with the steady performance and potential upsides, 2021 revenue excluding device and Ebitda growth are projected to be ahead of headline KPIs at mid single digit percentage growth for both,” Izzaddin said.

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