By Arjay L. Balinbin, Reporter

PLDT Inc. (PLDT) is looking at reducing its capital spending for this year by 24% to P63 billion from the planned P83 billion as movement and travel restrictions under the government-imposed enhanced community quarantine (ECQ) hamper its network rollout.

The Pangilinan-led company also reported on Thursday that its first-quarter net income had decreased 12% to P5.91 billion because of losses on its investment in German-based Internet company Rocket Internet and ramped-up investment in its digital arm Voyager Innovations, Inc.

“Our capex (capital expenditures) is likely to decline by 20 to 25%. Our best estimate as of now is that from P83 billion, it will probably drop to around P63 billion for the year unless, of course, we regain much of the momentum lost during this ECQ,” PLDT Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Manuel V. Pangilinan said during a virtual press briefing on Thursday.

PLDT Chief Finance Officer Anabelle L. Chua said the ECQ restrictions could lead to the spending adjustment.

“Our network rollout activities have been constrained by the reduced mobility of our network teams since the ECQ was imposed in mid-March,” she said.

In a disclosure to the stock exchange, PLDT said its first-quarter net income dropped 12% from P7.2 billion a year ago.

PLDT’s core income was also down 5% to P6.9 billion from P7.20 billion.

Total revenues went up 7% to P43.65 billion, of which service revenues increased 8% to P41.8 billion and non-service revenues inched up 1.25% to P1.85 billion.

By business segment, PLDT Home revenues grew 23% to P9.6 billion while revenues of the Individual segment soared 49% to P20.2 billion. The Enterprise group recorded P10.1 billion in revenues, up 24%.

Data and broadband saw revenues rise 19% to P29.3 billion as of end-March. PLDT said data contribution to service revenues grew to 71% in the first quarter.

“For most of the first three months of 2020, the Wireless Consumer business maintained its forward momentum in top-ups, driven by greater adoption of data among its subscribers and higher usage by existing data users,” PLDT said.

“Mobile data usage continued to be driven by customer demand for video, social media services, and mobile games delivered to prepaid subscribers through various GIGA load packages. When the lockdown came along, this was augmented by customers using various work collaboration apps conveniently bundled in a new service offer called GIGA Work,” it added.

The company said the bulk of its capex this year will go to connectivity, which includes fiber to the home, home WiFi and mobile.

It will also focus on upgrading IT systems since many businesses and individual consumers have been moving to online activities.

As for his outlook for the second quarter, Mr. Pangilinan said: “The revenue for the second quarter will likely show a decline of low to middle single digits compared to the first quarter revenues this year. But compared to the first quarter last year, it is likely that it will show growth.”

“The first half of this year will also be ahead of the first half of last year in terms of revenue,” he added.

Shares in PLDT went down by P48 or 3.76% to close at P1,227 apiece.

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