Astro registers improved fourth-quarter results

PETALING JAYA: Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd posted a 20% quarter-on-quarter (q-o-q) jump in net profit to RM127mil for its fourth quarter of the financial year ended Jan 31, 2022 (Q4’22), after taking into account the impact of “Cukai Makmur” (Prosperity Tax) in FY22.

In a statement, the group pointed out that advertising expenditure (adex) had increased 56% q-o-q to RM146mil, lifted by economic recovery and the resumption of signature productions.

Revenue was 1% higher q-o-q to RM1.03bil, and the group has declared a fourth interim dividend of 1.5 sen per share and proposed a final dividend of 0.75 sen per share.

This brings the full-year dividend to 6.75 sen per share.

“This represents 76% of the FY22 profits, over and above our dividend policy of paying out 75% of net profit,” said Astro chairman Tun Zaki Azmi.

Zaki pointed out that Astro’s Q4’22 results improved q-o-q on the back of economic recovery.

“However, consumer sentiment and spending power continued to be soft.

“The group remained cash generative, cost disciplined and proactive in its capital management,” he said.

Astro group CEO Henry Tan said in FY23, Astro is powering up by becoming an Internet service provider, bundling Astro Fibre with content, introducing Astro Fibre standalone broadband to complement its suite of offerings, as well as the full-scale rollout of the group’s addressable advertising proposition.

Tan added that anti-piracy efforts by the authorities, content partners and industry players saw significant progress, including landmark rulings to denounce content piracy as theft, illegal and punishable by law. “More recently, the passing of the Copyright (Amendment) Act 2022 is another major step forward in addressing piracy, enabling legal action to be taken against sellers of Illegal Streaming Devices (ISD),” he said.

Tan noted that while the country’s economy is expected to recover in FY23 supported by the transition from pandemic to endemic, economic recovery is expected to be uneven, with headwinds in the form of intermittent Covid-19 waves, inflation, potential interest rate hikes and more recently, potential spillover from global geopolitical events.

“The group remains cautiously optimistic and will continue to monitor business conditions, whilst prudently managing costs,” he said.

Tan also pointed out that in FY22, the group had executed its transformation plan and streaming aggregation strategy, and offered better-value bundles in a single bill.

“Customers are responding well to these new bundles, and we are ahead of expectations in terms of current subscribers migrating to the new packs and recontracting.

“We now offer three distinct services for Malaysians – Astro; our premium Pay-TV brand, NJOI; our prepaid option and sooka; our standalone freemium streaming service catering to Millennials with a mobile-first lifestyle,” he said.

The group also doubled its streaming services to six, with Netflix, Disney+ Hotstar and TVBAnywhere+ joining the existing Astro GO, HBO Go and iQIYI.

Netflix has been integrated directly onto Ultra and Ulti Boxes and Disney+ Hotstar will soon follow suit.

Tan noted that over 550,000 homes are already on Ultra and Ulti Boxes, which run on both satellite and broadband.

Meanwhile, Astro GO has 919,000 monthly active users with average weekly viewing time of four hours, while On Demand shows streamed grew 139% year-on-year to 530 minutes.

“In FY22, Astro’s broadband base also increased by 58% y-o-y as more customers bundled broadband with content for convenience and value,” said Tan.

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