One step back, two steps forward. This was how Globe Telecom Inc. characterized its latest financial performance after it reported a 30-percent decline in its net earnings last year—despite having booked higher sales—as it accelerated spending for its ongoing network modernization program.
In a press briefing, officials of the Ayala-controlled telecommunications firm said that its net income for 2012 declined to P6.85 billion from the previous year’s P9.83 billion. The drop came despite a 6-percent increase in Globe’s revenues to P82.7 billion at the end of 2012 from P77.7 billion in the previous year.
Amid complaints being received by the firm from subscribers as it upgrades its long-neglected network, Globe president and CEO Ernest Cu said the company was “encouraged by the continued growth and resilience” of its mobile and broadband businesses “that allowed us to reach record peaks in revenues quarter after quarter despite intense competition” and the ongoing network and IT modernization.
“As we anticipate a more challenging year ahead, given the increasingly competitive environment, we are hopeful that the gains we have made in terms of brand building and differentiation through customer experience will tide us through this most critical period as we complete our network and IT modernization program and undertake the related transition efforts,” he said.
The impact of the modernization-related spending was felt most acutely in the final quarter of the year when its quarterly net income dropped to only P49 million from P1.84 billion in the same quarter of 2011.
The sharp decline was due to the accelerated depreciation costs associated with retiring old network equipment as well as to higher subsidies the company had to pay for the large demand for new iPhone 5 units acquired by subscribers.
On Wednesday, Globe officials also said that the company would soon begin talks with stakeholders of Lopez-owned Bayan Telecommunications Inc. to discuss the firm’s eventual exit from its ongoing rehabilitation program.
Globe recently acquired close to 100 percent of the liabilities of the debt-saddled company in a deal that also allowed the Ayala-led firm to make use of Bayan’s valuable 3G frequency.
Cu said that a future merger with Bayan was possible if such a plan would be accepted by all stakeholders involved. He stressed, however, that any prospective union between Globe and Bayan would not face the same regulatory roadblock experienced by rival PLDT and Digital Telecommunications Inc. two years ago since a merged Globe-Bayan entity would be far from the size that a PLDT-Digitel union would have created in terms of cellular frequencies controlled by a single entity.
During Wednesday’s briefing, Globe officials noted that the company’s broadband and fixed line data segments also posted significant gains on account of the rising demand for data and Internet connectivity.
“Full year broadband revenues were up 16 percent to P8.7 billion as the year marked another milestone for the business with the commercial launch of its broadband LTE service that provided subscribers with alternative tools to improve their overall Internet experience,” Globe said.
Cumulative mobile subscribers by end of the year stood at 33.1 million, up 10 percent from previous year.