PLDT Inc. on Tuesday said that its revenues had been doing well since April, making it possible that its performance for the first half of the year will surpass last year’s despite the coronavirus crisis.
“Our revenues in the first four weeks of the lockdown — spanning the last half of March and the first half of April —were hardest hit. However, starting the week of Easter Sunday in April, following the balance of April, then May, and onwards to June, we have seen a steady upward march of our revenues, especially in wireless and home broadband,” PLDT Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Manuel V. Pangilinan said during the company’s annual stockholders’ meeting.
He also said revenues in April and May this year are ahead of last year.
“Given this momentum, it is likely that service revenues for the first six months this year will improve over last year’s despite the pandemic,” Mr. Pangilinan said.
PLDT, he noted, also expects that its first half telco core income will rise above last year’s despite the crisis.
“I can assure you that we have steady hands on the tiller, and the ship itself is sturdy. I can add that PLDT is, in fact, emerging stronger from this pandemic,” Mr. Pangilinan said.
Last month, the company announced that it would reduce its capital spending for the year by 24% to P63 billion from the planned P83 billion as movement and travel restrictions under the government-imposed enhanced community quarantine disrupted its network rollout.
The Pangilinan-led company’s 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.
PLDT’s core income was also down 5% to P6.9 billion from P7.2 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.
Meanwhile, Fitch Ratings said in its report e-mailed to reporters on Tuesday that the leverage profiles of PLDT and its rival Globe Telecom, Inc. are “likely to converge” this year.
Fitch Ratings noted that operating cash flow continues to lag behind investment amid the coronavirus crisis.
“Our projections envisage PLDT’s revenue growing by a low- to mid-single-digit percentage in 2020 (2019: 3%), slightly ahead of Globe’s low-single-digit rate decline (2019: 10% growth),” Fitch Ratings said.
“We consider PLDT’s broader service diversification and entrenched fixed-line position to be advantageous in mitigating revenue pressure in its wireless business, compared with Globe. However, the investments needed to support PLDT’s expansion in mobile revenue and broadband installations are likely to moderate EBITDA growth and delay deleveraging,” it said.
It also noted that the continued travel restrictions “will delay infrastructure network rollout, including new competition from third mobile network operator, Dito Telecommunity Corp.”
On Tuesday, shares in PLDT increased P54 or 4.74% to close at P1,194 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. — Arjay L. Balinbin