By Denise A. Valdez, Reporter

PLDT, Inc. reported a 13% increase in earnings in the second quarter, as its consumer wireless business showed strong growth.

The listed telecommunications giant’s net income attributable to equity holders stood at P5.5 billion for the April to June period, higher than the P4.86 billion in the same period last year.

Second quarter revenues rose 2% to P42.6 billion, as the 6% increase in service revenues to P40.8 billion failed to offset the 41% decline in non-service revenues to P1.8 billion.

For the first half, PLDT’s attributable net income went up 4% to P12.21 billion year on year.

Revenues increased 2% to P84 billion for the January to June period. Service revenues grew 5% to P80.41 billion, while non-service revenues dropped 41% to P3.6 billion.

Service revenues were largely driven by a 20% increase in wireless revenues to P34.4 billion. The wireless business was lifted by the strong demand for data and broadband, which generated P49.6 billion in revenues, up 19%.

PLDT noted data now accounts for 65% of the company’s total revenues, enough to offset the 7% decline in domestic voice to P20.2 billion, 14% drop in SMS to P4.5 billion and 29% drop in international voice to P2.5 billion.

“I think the trend appears to continue for the balance of the year. We would expect a similar growth in revenue for the wireless side in that order of magnitude. I think that’s a good turnout on the wireless side for the entire year of 2019,” PLDT Chairman and Chief Executive Officer Manuel V. Pangilinan said at a briefing in Makati City.

PLDT’s enterprise segment added P19.4 billion to the total revenue pie, or 6% higher from last year, while PLDT Home contributed P18.3 billion, up 2% year on year.

Expenses were also kept at bay, falling by 4% to P32.54 billion during the April to June period, and by 5% to P63.67 billion during the first half.

“There will be challenges on the cost side, particularly the network side, rising depreciation because of the elevated capex the past few years,” Mr. Pangilinan said.

PLDT’s telco core income, which excludes losses from Voyager Innovations, Inc., stood at P13.2 billion as of June. Mr. Pangilinan said PLDT is anticipating the full-year telco core income to hit P26.4 billion, slightly higher from the previous guidance of P26 billion.

“For 2019, we’re getting to be a bit more confident about our numbers. Our revenues increased by double-digit… Wireless is very strong. I think both Home and Enterprise would also improve in revenues. If we could continue to contain our costs for the year…profitability would improve by at least 10% this year compared to last year,” Mr. Pangilinan said.

PLDT is targeting a high single-digit growth for the enterprise segment and a mid-single digit growth for the home segment by end-2019.

The company said it spent P32.7 billion of its P78.4-billion capital expenditure allocation in the first six months of the year.

In the same briefing, Mr. Pangilinan announced the appointment of PLDT Chief Revenue Officer Alfredo S. Panlilio as the president and chief executive officer of the company’s wireless unit Smart Communications, Inc.

“In this connection, I am pleased to announce the appointment of Alfredo S. Panlilio as president of Smart Communications effective 8th August 2019. On concurrent basis, he is Executive Vice President and Chief Revenue Officer of PLDT,” he said.

For his part, Mr. Panlilio said Smart will focus on “regaining leadership” in the consumer wireless market.

“We’re really focused on driving wireless and home. We need a team to drive it. That will be the focus, that’s the marching order of (Mr. Pangilinan),” he said.

With this leadership change, Mr. Pangilinan said the appointment of a new president and chief executive officer for PLDT may soon follow.

Malapit na siguro [It’s probably soon], kasi kung nag-stabilize na ’yung revenue picture, kung talagang say first half (or) third quarter next year, kung medyo feeling ko [because if the revenue picture is stabilizing, say first half or third quarter next year I feel that] we’re achieving some steady state in terms of growth and stability in revenues…then there’s no reason for me to stay,” he said.