PLDT Q1 income hits P9.8B with data, broadband growth

PHOTO FROM JGSUMMIT.COM.PH

PANGILINAN-LED telecommunications company PLDT Inc. saw its attributable net income climb by 8.9% to P9.82 billion for the first quarter (Q1) from P9.06 billion a year ago, boosted by higher net service revenues.

PLDT’s combined revenues for the period expanded by 3.6% to P54.22 billion from P52.36 billion previously driven by service revenues.

“We continue to squeeze growth out of an industry that seems bound by gravity. That said, our first quarter results are encouraging. We are determined to break past this gravitational hold,” PLDT Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Manuel V. Pangilinan said.

Broken down, service revenues lifted the company’s top line after climbing by 5% to P52.2 billion from last year’s P49.73 billion, representing 96.3% of the company’s revenues for the period, while non-service revenues accounted for the 3.7% share at P2.03 billion.

Among its service revenues, the company’s individual wireless segment posted P21.1 billion, while mobile data revenues reached P18.8 billion, PLDT said.

To date, active data users grew to 39.4 million with an average data usage per subscriber at 11.6 gigabytes.

PLDT’s telco core income, which excludes the impact of asset sale and Maya Innovations Holdings, formerly Voyager Innovations Holdings, reached P9.32 billion, 7.9% higher than the P8.64 billion in the first quarter last year.

The telecommunications company’s wireless unit Smart Communications, Inc. has recorded a total of 59 million mobile subscribers as of end-March.

Digital Lender Maya Bank, Inc. is expecting to launch more loan and investment products this year to help boost the company’s goal to serve unbanked and underserved markets.

For the first quarter, Maya has disbursed P34 billion in loans with 59% of its borrowers having Maya as their first and only bank, it said, adding that this highlights the digital inclusion roadmap of the company.

“Maya continues to solidify its status as the Philippines’ payment backbone by enabling thousands of large, small, and micro businesses to accept digital payments,” PLDT said.

PLDT SELLS DATA CENTER BUSINESSFurther, the company said it is in talks with Nippon Telegraph and Telephone (NTT) Japan on its data center assets.

In March, PLDT said it was in discussion with a foreign entity for the asset management of ePLDT, Inc.’s data centers.

“Likely to be north of $1 billion,” Mr. Pangilinan said when asked about the price of PLDT’s data center business.

“Do we sell 48%, 40%, 50%, or 60% of the data center business? Obviously when you sell control of the data centers, we get more money or premium, the question now to PLDT is do we keep control?,” he said.

However, Mr. Pangilinan said nothing is final yet at the moment and if the negotiations with NTT Japan will not push through, its data center unit may opt for a real estate investment trust (REIT) listing.

Earlier this year, ePLDT designated its unit VITRO, Inc. to handle its data center operations.

“If we cannot get the values from equity investors, let’s say we decide to keep control, we might get a REIT of the data centers,” Mr. Pangilinan said.

To date, PLDT has 11 data centers including the 50-megawatt hyperscale data center in Sta. Rosa Laguna which is expected to be completed by July.

Meanwhile, Mr. Pangilinan said PLDT is still searching for the next president after Alfredo S. Panlilio resigned from the role last year due to health reasons.

Currently, Mr. Pangilinan said the company has at least two to three candidates being considered for the role.

“I am still alive, (the search) is ongoing. I have seen two to three candidates. But I think in the shorter period (we will announce) because I do not intend to stay in this seat for a longer (period),” Mr. Pangilinan said.

“I do hope that by the start of next year. We will have visibility of a CEO position.”

At the local bourse on Thursday, shares in the company shed P13 or 0.95% to end at P1,355 apiece.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Ashley Erika O. Jose