KUALA LUMPUR: Axiata Group Bhd posted a strong operational performance in the first half of the year although bottomline fell into the red on the back of unfavourable foreign exchange and tax payments.
"This was largely due to unrealised forex losses from Dialog and Axiata due to the strengthening US dollar, higher taxes in the form of the one-off Cukai Makmur in Malaysian entities and surcharge tax in Dialog and net finance cost," the telco group said in a statement.
Highlighting the operational performance of its businesses, Axiata maintained it was on track to exceeding headline KPIs for 2022 despite incurring a net loss of RM106.38mil in the second quarter ended June 30, 2022.
The quarter's performance brought cumulative net loss over the six months period to RM149.35mil, representing a loss per share of 1.6 sen.
On a reported basis, the group said year-to-date revenue and earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) increased 5.8% and 7.4% respectively, mainly contributed by all operating companies (Opco) except Dialog and Ncell.
On an underlying basis, revenue excluding device grew 7.9%, whilst Ebitda grew 8.1% correspondingly, offset by higher taxes and net finance cost, it said.
Meanwhile, Axiata said it achieved cost excellence in the second quarter through total capital and operational expenditure savings of RM645mil.
"With COVID-19 impacts clearly behind us, a majority of our operating companies have delivered solid operational results in the first half of 2022, mostly outperforming in their markets.
With the improved operational performance, we are likely to exceed the headline KPIs for the year both in terms of revenue excluding device as well as EBIT growth,” said joint acting CEO Vivek Sood.
“Forex impact and macro headwinds especially in Sri Lanka, Bangladesh and Nepal had adversely impacted group earnings.
"To stem the tide, our immediate focus will be directed towards integrating new acquisitions, managing USD liquidity and inflation especially in frontier markets and easing out the balance sheet stretch," he added.
On its medium-term outlook, joint acting CEO Hans Wijayasuriya said the group is cognisant of risks such as increased energy costs, global chip supply shortages and higher interest rates.
"We are also keeping a close watch on the impact of M&A transactions specifically the timing of completion, impact to gross debt/EBITDA and delivery of synergies," he added.
Chairman Tan Sri Shahril Ridza Ridzuan said Axiata's future-proofing efforts remain on track, including the Celcom-Digi merger completion of Link Net acquisition and expansion of edotco’s tower portfolio.
He added that the group has come closer to having a common alignment between the various 5G stakeholders in developing a sustainable ecosystem.
"Axiata looks forward to finalising access and commercial details with Digital Nasional Berhad so consumers and enterprises will benefit from next generation solutions as the nation accelerates digitally," he said.