Tuesday, 3 March 2009

Philippine telecom giant posts income growth amid global crisis

Xinhua News Agency

MANILA, March 3 (Xinhua) -- Philippine Long Distance Telephone Company, the country's biggest telecommunications company, said Tuesday that its net income for 2008 rose 8 percent to 38.1 billion pesos (about 776.6 million U.S. dollars) with increased revenues on wireless, fixed line and ePLDT services.

In a statement issued Tuesday, PLDT reported its consolidated service revenues rose by 5 percent to 142.9 billion pesos (2.9 billion dollars).

Consolidated EBITDA improved by 6 percent in 2008 to 87.6 billion pesos (1.78 billion dollars) while EBITDA margin was stable at 61 percent. EBITDA, used to evaluate a company's profitability, is short for "earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization."

PLDT continues to dominate the local wireless market thanks to its expanding subscription base. The company's consolidated wireless service revenues rose 8 percent to 93.6 billion pesos (1.9 billion dollars) in 2008.

"Our core businesses continue to grow despite the global recession but we have no intention of sitting on our laurels. We are fully aware of the extent of the situation and will keep a watchful eye on issues that may affect us," said Napoleon L. Nazareno, PLDT President and CEO.

PLDT's cellular subsidiaries, Smart Communications, Inc. ("Smart") and Pilipino Telephone Corporation ("Piltel") have a total of 35.2 million subscribers by the end of 2008. The subscriber base of SmartBro, Smart's wireless broadband service -- through its wholly-owned subsidiary Smart Broadband, Inc. -- rose 81 percent to hit 547,000 at the end of 2008. SmartBro's revenues in 2008 increased 81 percent to 4.3 billion pesos (87.6 million dollars)

"Via wireless broadband, Smart is once again doing what it does best, this time playing a leading global role in bringing the Internet within the reach of ordinary people. With the imminent launch of our 850 MHz HSPA network, the first in the region, our subscribers will soon have a faster, easier and richer broadband experience on their cellular phone, PC (personal computer), or any mobile internet device anywhere, anytime, at affordable rates," said Orlando B. Vea, Chief Wireless Adviser of Smart.

Meanwhile, PLDT's fixed line service revenues increased 1 percent to 49.3 billion pesos (1 billion dollars) in 2008 on gains in data revenues. Despite increased revenues and income, PLDT's consolidated net profit slid 4 percent to 34.6 billion pesos (705.3 million dollars) owing to depreciation expenses and losses from the foreign exchange fluctuations. Consolidated free cash flow remained strong at 47.9 billion pesos (980 million dollars) in 2008. Total dividend payments for 2008 will total 37.5 billion pesos (764.4 million dollars).

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