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Thursday, 22 February 2018 | MYT 6:06 PM

Axiata records 80% earnings jump in FY17 to RM909m

KUALA LUMPUR: Axiata Group Bhd recorded an 80% jump in earnings for its financial year ended Dec 31, 2017, to RM909.48mil compared to RM504.25mil in the previous year on positive performances by its core mobile operations while cost-optimisation initiatives delivered above expectations. 

The group posted 13.2% revenue growth in the year under review to RM24.4bil from RM21.6bil previously owing to strong contributions across its mobile operating companies (OpCos).

"Group also recorded a 15.2% increase in earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) to reach RM9.2bil compared to RM8bil in FY16 while Ebitda margin improved by 0.6 percentage points to 37.8% for the year on the back of higher revenue and cost optimisation initiatives," it said in a press statement.

Axiata met all its KPI for the financial year, with record revenue and Ebitda, said Tan Sri Jamaludin Ibrahim, president and group CEO of Axiata.

“Our two largest operations, Celcom and XL, delivered as planned. Celcom’s turnaround has been the key focus for us this year and I am pleased with the improvements made on all indicators to demonstrate that a firm turnaround is on track.”

Axiata declared an interim dividend of 3.5 sen per share in the final quarter, bringing full-year dividend payout to 8.5 sen per share. This translates into a dividend payout ratio of 64% compared to 50% in FY16.

In Asean markets, Celcom posted revenue, Ebitda and profit after tax and minority interests (Patami) growth of 0.6%, 2.9% and 8.5% respectively, while average revenue per user (Arpu) also showed growth with postpaid rising RM6 and prepaid, RM2.

"Competing in a data-centric market, Celcom improved its network experience considerably especially with the expansion of its 4G and 4G LTE-A population coverage to 87% and 74% in 4Q17. 

"Other key operational improvements in Celcom includes simplified product portfolio, improved sales and distribution channels, and enhanced organisation and culture transformation through digital and agile ways of working."

In Indonesia, XL's revenue improved 7% on significant data growth of 60.9%, which accounted for 57.2% of XL's FY17 total revenue. The data growth was supported by high smartphone penetration of 72% and data users at 73% of its subscriber base.

Rounding out the Asean operations, Smart put in an improved performance despite a price war with revenue, Ebitda and PAT growing 5.4%, 5.5% and 7.7% respectively.

Meanwhile in South Asian markets, Dialog, Robi and Ncell experienced growth in revenue and profit after tax.

In the infrastructure and digital businesses segment, edotco saw strong growth with 11.8% higher revenue from portfolio expansion and operational efficiencies.

Associate contribution was weaker as Idea in India posted a RM450mil loss to the group compared to RM65mil profit the previous year in the face of significant competitive disruption in the country.

M1 contributed a lower profit of RM122mil compared to a profit of RM129mil previously.

Moving forward, Jamaludin said the prposed merger of Idea and Vodafone to create the largest telco in India will signify a new era. 

"We believe in the intrinsic value of Idea, however, consequent of the merger, there will be a significant technical impartment, which is a non-cash, purely accounting adjustment and not reflective of actual performance," he said.

He added that the completion of edotco's proposed acquisition in Pakistan will see material impact with an immediate profit accretion while investments in key digital businesses such as fintech and enterprise/IoT is expected to make significant inroads during the year.