S r i L a n k a ’s l e a d i n g telecommunication services provider, the Sri Lanka Telecom PLC (SLT) group, turned a Rs.383 million net loss for the quarter ended December 31, 2015 (4Q15) from a net profit of Rs.958 million posted a year ago, due to slower growth in revenue and higher operating costs, the interim financial accounts released to the Colombo bourse showed. Further, the non-receipt of the Telecommunication Development Charge (TDC) refund and the hefty foreign currency translation losses also contributed to the poor performance.
The loss per share was 21 cents for the quarter against an earnings per share of 53 cents. “The year 2015 was a challenging year for SLT and to the entire group,” releasing a statement Group Chief Executive Officer Dileepa Wijesundera said. (Read the full SLT statement on Page 9)
The top line grew just one percent year-on-year (YoY) to Rs.17.2 billion but the operating cost rose at a faster phase of 4 percent YoY to Rs.13.6 billion. The operating profit before depreciation and amortization declined 8 percent YoY to Rs.3.6 billion. However, the group, which has a mobile telephony subsidiary – Mobitel (Private) Limited– has managed to maintain its earnings before interest tax depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) margin at “healthy level of 29 percent”, the company said.
The telecom operator did not receive the TDC refund during the period. The TDC refund during the corresponding quarter was Rs.302 million, while for the full financial year (FY15), the amount received was Rs.1.3 billion. Further,the appreciation of the US dollar against the rupee during the year resulted in foreign exchange translation losses as the group had foreign currency borrowings. The group reported translation losses of Rs.360 million and Rs.2.1 billion for 4Q15 and FY15, respectively. Meanwhile, for the year ended December 31, 2015 (FY15), the SLT group posted a net profit of Rs.3.7 billion, down 38 percent.
The earnings per share was 2.06 cents. The group revenue was up 5 percent to Rs.68 billion, while the operating costs were up 4 percent to Rs.48 billion. The resulting operating profit before depreciation and amortization was Rs.20 billion, up 7 percent. The fixed telephony business of the group saw its profit before tax narrowing to Rs.2.8 billion from Rs.4.9 billion a year ago. The segment’s revenues were Rs.37.2 billion, up from Rs.35.7 billion. The group paid Rs.769 million in respect of the Super Gains Tax. As of December 31, 2015, the government held a 49.50 percent stake while Global Telecommunications Holdings NV held a 44.98 percent stake. The Employees’ Provident Fund had a 1.34 percent stake being the third largest shareholder.