PLDT Inc. reported an attributable net income of P9.02 billion in the first quarter, down by 0.7% from P9.08 billion in the same period last year when it booked non-recurring gains.

“Last year, we had this income from the prescription of preferred redemption liability worth P7.8 billion, which was not present this year,” said Danny Y. Yu, the newly appointed chief financial officer and chief risk management officer, on the sidelines of the company’s media briefing on Thursday.

“But in terms of telco core income, it’s higher even after the [share] losses in Voyager Innovations, Inc.,” he said, referring to the digital solutions provider under PLDT’s digital bank Maya Bank, Inc.

In the first quarter, the company booked P8.64 billion telco core income, which is 5.1% higher than the P8.22 billion recorded last year.

“We continue to reinforce our core infrastructure. We are now at 17.2 million in terms of homes passed, an increase of about 1.7 million homes from the previous period,” PLDT President and Chief Executive Officer Alfredo S. Panlilio said.

PLDT’s top line was 5.1% higher at P52.36 billion in the first three months of the year from P49.83-billion revenues booked in 2022. Its service revenues, gross of interconnection costs, reached P49.73 billion, up by 4.4% from P47.65 billion previously.

The individual wireless segment of the company contributed P19.8 billion of the service revenues. Home accounted for P15 billion, enterprise shared P11.8 billion, while the international segment accounted for P500 million.

In the first quarter, the company recorded a 4.8% decrease in its expenses, which included interconnection costs and marginal revenue product expenses at P39.7 billion from P41.69 billion.

Cost-cutting measures were implemented during the quarter such as those involving compensation and energy efficiencies, Mr. Panlilio said.

The company’s capital expenditure (capex) during the quarter was at P19.3 billion, 22% higher than its spending of P15.8 billion in 2022. The bulk was used for network and information technology improvements, which amounted to P16.1 billion.

Meanwhile, Mr. Yu said that around P11 billion to P14 billion of the budget overrun was taken into account in the first quarter under property, plant and equipment.

The amount is for 5G orders, which is part of the capex overrun, the assets of which had already been received by the company, Mr. Panlilio said.

Previously, the company said that the agreement with vendors had reduced PLDT’s outstanding commitments to them for the acquisition of property equipment post-2022 to P33 billion.

For 2023, PLDT has earmarked a capex of P80 billion to P85 billion, which is lower than the P96.8 billion it used in 2022.

Mr. Panlilio said that the initial profit guidance presented to the company’s board of directors was P33.8 billion.

“The budget that we had approved from the board was P33.8 billion. It’s really a clean-up year for us, a lot of things are happening. There’s still work being done on the settlement, in terms of certain work we are reviewing,” he said.

“Obviously, we are pushing to do more but for now that’s the guidance that we are internally looking at, at this point,” he added.

Mr. Panlilio said that the company is hoping to record free cash flow in 2024, as the company continues to strengthen its core business.

“We are looking forward to serving our customers better through being more innovative and bringing more products and services into the market,” he said.

“Enterprise is going to be an interesting growth area for us,” he said. “There are a lot of possible growth initiatives in enterprise. We are pushing for cloud and solutions, and that’s where the growth area could possibly be coming from.”  

Separately, the company announced in a regulatory filing the appointments of three officials to fill vacated positions.

Mr. Yu, senior vice president and PLDT group controller, was given the chief financial officer and chief risk management officer roles starting May 4.

First Vice President Luis S. Reñon was promoted to a senior vice president position starting Thursday.

Meanwhile, the PLDT board has elected Marilyn A. Victorio-Aquino as a director of the company to cover the unexpired term of the late Ambassador Albert F. del Rosario.

Ms. Victorio-Aquino is a senior vice president and the chief legal counsel, head of legal and regulatory affairs, and corporate secretary of PLDT. Her appointment as a director will start on May 8.

On Thursday, shares in PLDT went up by P55 or 4.59% to close at P1,254 apiece.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a majority stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls. — Justine Irish DP. Tabile