By Arjay L. Balinbin, Senior Reporter

PLDT, Inc. revised its capital expenditure (capex) guidance for the year to P85 billion from P76-80 billion to support the company’s updated requirements for home broadband and data center businesses.

The capex will also support “upgrades of the towers and their passive infrastructure assets,” PLDT Chief Finance Officer Anabelle L. Chua said during a press briefing on Thursday.

The company saw its first-quarter attributable net income increase by 56% to P9.1 billion from P5.8 billion in the same period a year ago.

Telco core income, excluding the impact of asset sales and Voyager Innovations, increased by 9% to P8.2 billion from the same period in 2021.

Consolidated service revenues grew by 3% to P46.4 billion during the period.

The company said data and broadband, which grew by 8% to P36.6 billion, contributed 79% to its total service revenues.

Earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) improved by 10% to P25.5 billion.

“EBITDA margin was at 53% in the first quarter of 2022, from 51% in the previous year. Normalized for the impact of Typhoon Odette, EBITDA for the first quarter of 2022 would have been higher by 12% year on year to P26.1 billion,” PLDT noted.

PLDT and Smart President and Chief Executive Officer Alfredo S. Panlilio said the company is moving in lockstep with its customers’ shifting needs as the pandemic-related restrictions ease.

“Our superior, reliable integrated network continues to sustain hybrid work and learning setups, keep loved ones connected online, deliver entertainment content, as well as support businesses and e-commerce.”

Meanwhile, PLDT’s consolidated net debt reached $4.42 billion in the first quarter, while net-debt-to-EBITDA stood at 2.33x.

Gross debt was at $4.997 billion, “with maturities well spread out,” the company noted.

“Only 16% of gross debt are denominated in US dollars and 4% are unhedged,” it noted, adding that it maintained its credit ratings from Moody’s and S&P Global at investment grade.”

According to Mr. Panlilio, the growth in service revenues “will be underpinned by our continued rollout of fiber ports and LTE/5G, our data center expansion, and our commitment to delivering the best customer experience.”

PLDT Chairman Manuel V. Pangilinan said the company must “stay the course in order to generate greater free cash flow from higher revenues, cost optimization and the sale of our towers — the last of which could enhance income this year and in succeeding years.”

“Further, all of these should enable us to deleverage, reducing net debt to EBITDA back to 2.0x — enabling us to pay special dividends, and fortify PLDT’s balance sheet,” he added.

PLDT shares closed 2.28% higher at P1,932 apiece on Thursday.