Astro's 2Q net profit soars 96%, declares 3 sen dividend

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KUALA LUMPUR (Sept 14): Astro Malaysia Holdings Bhd's second quarter net profit jumped 96% to RM246.34 million, from RM125.43 million a year earlier, mainly due to lower finance costs on the back of favourable unrealised foreign exchange gains.

Earnings per share for the quarter ended July 31, 2017 (2QFY18) increased to 4.73 sen per share from 2.41 sen, the group said in a filing to Bursa Malaysia.

Revenue was, however, down by a marginal 0.6% to RM1.42 billion from RM1.43 billion, which the group attributed to a decrease in subscription and licensing revenue.

"The decrease in licensing revenue was due to loss of content recovery for a sports channel. The decrease in subscription revenue was mainly due to lower package take-up," it said, adding that this was offset by higher advertising revenue during the Hari Raya advertisement period.

Cumulative net profit for the first half of FY18 increased 35% to RM442.17 million, from RM327.6 million in the previous year. Revenue was lower by almost 2% at RM2.75 billion from RM2.79 billion.

Astro has declared a second interim dividend of 3 sen per share, payable on Oct 13.

Astro's group chief executive officer Datuk Rohana Rozhan said the group's diversified revenue streams across TV, radio and digital platforms continued to show resilience in the second quarter.

"Margins and profits in 2QFY18 benefited from lower cost to serve and one-off savings arising from content secured on more favourable terms," said Rohana.

She added that Astro is now focused on expanding its household reach onto individual devices and developing meaningful personal relationships.

"Our home proposition achieved net growth of 288,000 driven primarily by NJOI (Astro's free satellite service) net adds, and is on track for 90% reach within 5 years, reinforcing a strong base to serve," she said.

Astro currently serves 5.3 million, or 72% of, Malaysian households.

"Viewing across multiple screens and on demand consumption are gaining momentum. Astro GO grew its registered users to 1.3 million with an average of 235 minutes viewing time per week among active users," she said in a statement.

The group said its first half revenue was lower primarily due to the end of a one-off sports channel sub-licensing, marginally lower contribution from subscriptions and e-commerce. This was, however, partially mitigated by higher contribution from advertising expenditure, NJOI and production revenue.

"Going forward, the company expects revenue growth in the immediate term to be underpinned by e-commerce, Adex, production revenues and NJOI," said Astro.

Astro's share price closed down five sen or 1.87% at RM2.63, giving a market capitalisation of RM13.75 billion.