- Earnings up on unrealised foreign exchange gain
- Says operations in month of June returned to pre-pandemic levels
Dialog Axiata PLC this week said the pandemic had an adverse impact on its revenues while the provision for bad debt hit profits as the group extended credit to keep people connected during the lockdowns, which significantly affected cash collections.
But the group’s earnings were helped by an unrealised foreign exchange gain resulted from the appreciation of the rupee.
Sri Lanka’s leading celco reported revenues of Rs.28.2 billion for the April-June 2020 quarter, compared to Rs.29.1 billion in the comparable period last year.
Revenues from its key mobile operation declined while its fixed broadband grew and pay TV segment held up, as people in lockdown accessed more of the company’s digital services to link with others and for entertainment.
Telecommunication was one of the least affected sectors along with pharmaceutical trading and manufacturing, which were essential in nature during
Their mostly defensive cash flows helped companies to shield themselves or in some cases to benefit from the pandemic while others succumbed.
Digital service and e-commerce service providers in fact outperformed the rest of the companies, even globally, as seen from the strong financial performance and rally in the technology stocks during and after the pandemic. The Dialog Axiata group reported an operating profit of Rs.2.47 billion for the three months, down from Rs.3.36 billion in the same period last year.
The group had to provide for bad debt as it extended the services on credit during the quarter and cash collections were hampered during the lockdowns and their immediate aftermath.
Dialog Axiata however had seen performance recovering to pre-pandemic levels in June but said its sustenance or growth depends on the recovery in consumer spending and the country’s enterprise sector.
“With the easing of strict lockdown measures starting mid-May, business activity has resumed across the country and the group has seen a gradual recovery in revenue and collections. The group also expects opportunities for broadband and digital services to facilitate the increase in remote operations,” Dialog Axiata said in an earnings release.
The group reported a higher bottom line for the quarter under review, with earnings of 28 cents a share or Rs.2.31 billion, compared to 24 cents a share or Rs.1.99 billion in the year earlier period.
This was due to the unrealised foreign exchange gain of Rs.649 million during the quarter, which was possible due to the 2 percent appreciation of the rupee against the US dollar.
Dialog Axiata has a substantial amount of foreign currency-denominated borrowings, which get translated into rupees every quarter when interim results are prepared.
Meanwhile, the group cut capital expenditure in the second quarter, bringing the total for the first half to Rs.6.4 billion, due to the restriction on importation and deployment of capex.
This temporary slowdown in capex helped the group to improve its operating free cash flow to Rs.14 billion by end-June. The group continued to exhibit a low-geared balance sheet with the net debt to EBITDA ratio being maintained at 0.75x, as at end-June 2020.
Dialog Axiata’s Malaysian parent, Axiata Investments (Labuan) Limited, owns 83.32 percent of the company while Sri Lanka’s Employees’ Provident Fund has a 2.92 percent stake, being the company’s second largest shareholder.