The Sri Lanka Telecom PLC (SLT) Group released its financial results for the first quarter of 2021, with a remarkable 14.3% year-on-year (YoY) growth in profit after tax (PAT) to Rs. 2.1 billion.
The group revenue went up to Rs. 24.7 billion for the period with a 11.4% YoY growth, strongly underpinned by the growth in revenues of FTTH, 4G LTE, mobile broadband services, PEOTV services, and carrier domestic services. International voice revenue reflected a de-growth while international revenues from global transit and global data soared compared to the same period last year.
The EBITDA (Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation, and Amortisation) of the group improved to Rs. 9.7 billion, a 13.6% YoY growth, lifting the EBITDA margin up to 39.4% from 38.6% in the same period last year. The surge in revenue largely contributed to the EBITDA growth. The growing capital expenditure in order to align with global technological trends pushed the depreciation and amortisation of the group up to Rs. 6.3 billion, a 18.0% YoY increase.
The operating profit of the group stood at Rs. 3.4 billion, reflecting a 6.3% YoY growth resulting from the increase in group EBITDA which was partly offset by the elevated depreciation and amortisation for the period. Interest expenses and finance cost charged to the profit or loss statement increased to Rs. 0.8 billion for the period under review while forex losses declined to Rs. 0.3 billion. The profit before tax (PBT) rose to Rs. 2.8 billion, up by 9.3% over the same period last year.
The growth in EBITDA coupled with the effective collection strategies of the group, almost tripled the operating cash flow of the group to Rs. 12.2 billion for the period under review. Furthermore, the group managed to reduce long-term borrowings to Rs. 44.9 billion as at the reporting date.
The holding company of the group recorded an impressive 13.5% increase in revenue over the same period last year reaching Rs. 14.2 billion. The PAT of the company went up to Rs. 1.4 billion, reflecting a 16.2% YoY growth.
The mobile arm of the SLT Group, Mobitel (Pvt.) Ltd. too improved revenue for the quarter by 8.1% YoY to Rs. 11.6 billion. The PAT of Mobitel soared during the period to Rs. 1.5 billion which is a 65.4% YoY growth resulting from the increased revenue and the effective cost management measures.
The group paid a total amount of Rs. 3.7 billion as direct and indirect taxes including levies to the Government in the first quarter of 2021.
SLT Group Chairman Rohan Fernando stated: “I am extremely proud of my management team and my staff for delivering yet another solid quarter. Our business continued to accelerate in the first quarter with a double-digit growth in revenues and profits and with a robust operating cash flow. Consolidation of our group sales and marketing under the SLT-Mobitel unified branding contributed immensely in achieving the success we report in the first quarter. While uncertainty related to Covid-19 remains, we will stay focused on driving growth, building on favourable market trends, improving operational performance, and delivering value for all our stakeholders.”
SLT Group Chief Executive Officer (CEO) Lalith Seneviratne remarked: “Our first quarter financial performance represents a promising start to the year 2021. We commenced the year 2021 with the brand unification of SLT-Mobitel which is another milestone in the SLT Group’s legacy. The strategic journey of the SLT Group towards digital transformation has proven imperative with the present pandemic situation which has also demonstrated the critical role technology plays in everyday life. The group remains resilient amidst the challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic owing to our robust business execution coupled with our attractive product portfolio.”
SLT CEO Kiththi Perera stated: “We are successfully progressing with our accelerated fibre expansion programme with an aim to provide ultra-speed Fibre-to-the-Home (FTTH) connections across the country. This year is pivotal to SLT since in mid-2021, SLT together with its mobile arm Mobitel aims at expanding and upgrading the present 4G network in view of providing an enhanced broadband experience and also to launch a pre-commercial 5G service using 3.5 GHz. In addition, SLT plans to invest in expanding its global network including the upcoming SEA-ME-WE 06 submarine cable system to connect to the world at the speed of terra bits per second. The domestic and global network expansions will be complemented by multiple digital initiatives in our efforts to continually improve customer experience and service levels.”
SLT COO Priyantha Fernandez commented: “During this Covid-19 pandemic situation, SLT has provided an uninterrupted service to the nation and offered innovative yet affordable data packages to facilitate the shift towards work-from-home and study-from-home arrangements. Furthermore, SLT in collaboration with Cisco and Millennium I.T.E.S.P. (Pvt.) Ltd. launched its new managed SD-WAN services to accelerate digitisation of enterprise and government customers in Sri Lanka. In addition, SLT-Mobitel extended the PEO TV Go services to our mobile customers too to enjoy their favourite TV programmes.”
Mobitel Acting CEO Chandika Vitharana added: “As the world continues to go through a challenging era due to the ongoing pandemic, SLT-Mobitel, which provides an indispensable and critical service under the prevailing conditions, was able to create value for all its stakeholders. Mobitel, the mobile arm of the SLT Group, is aggressively expanding the network to rural areas to ensure no one is left behind in these difficult and challenging times. Many initiatives were carried out during this period to make broadband accessible to all. Affordable bundle device offers to help increase smartphone penetration, attractive application-based data plans, and mobile and home broadband plans to facilitate work-from-home and learn-from-home conditions are a few of the initiatives devised to make broadband affordable and accessible to all segments of society according to their needs. While making broadband available to all, SLT-Mobitel is committed to providing uninterrupted connectivity to the nation during these turbulent times.”