Telstra (ASX: TLS) has reported its first-half results for FY20. We take a look at the company’s headline figures, key commentary and guidance outlook, plus review the share market’s reaction across the trading day.
Compared with the half-year ending 31st December, 2018, Telstra has this morning reported a decline in total income of 2.8% to $13.4bn for HY20. Profit for the period from ordinary activities after tax fell by 7.6% to $1.14bn, while reported NPAT dropped 6.4% to $1.2bn.
The company has declared a total interim dividend per share of $0.08, which includes an ‘ordinary’ dividend component of $0.05 per share, and a ‘special’ dividend component of $0.03 per share. TLS shares will trade ex-dividend on the 26th February, 2020, with the record date following one day after on the 27th February, 2020.
While TLS shares traded sharply higher at the open, they soon gave up all those gains and plunged into the red as news broke that TPG and Vodafone were given the green light on their merger. Trading remained subdued thereafter, with TLS closing 1.6% lower at $3.76.
Total income across the half decreased by 2.8% to $13.4bn, on a reported basis, compared with the prior corresponding period. This translated to a 6.4% drop in NPAT to $1.2bn, while reported EBITDA came in at $4.8bn. Underlying EBITDA was weaker, dropping by 6.6% to $3.9bn. This figure included a $360m concession for the “in-year nbn headwind”, otherwise underlying EBITDA would have grown for the first time since FY16, by an estimated $90m.
The company’s CEO, Andrew Penn, has spoken positively regarding the “momentum” building in the company’s efforts to execute its T22 strategy. He cited strong cost reduction, growth in digital service interactions, as well as “new and simplified” products and services entering the market. Underlying fixed costs were reduced by 12.1%, equivalent to $422m in savings.
A $10m hit has been felt by the company following the impact of bushfires, with Mr Penn signalling that this is likely to reach as much as $50m once refunds, donations and customer assistance are tallied.
During the half, Telstra added 137,000 retail postpaid mobile services, 135,000 retail prepaid mobile services, and 173,000 pre and postpaid and IoT Wholesale services. The company’s roll-out of 5G coverage continues, currently standing at 32 cities, with a goal of 50 by the end of FY20.
Management has reiterated guidance for FY20, expecting total income to feature in the range of $25.3-$25.7bn. In addition, underlying EBITDA is forecast to come in between $7.4-$7.9bn.
Other key metrics include an estimated $2.9bn to $3.3bn in capex, free cash flow after operating lease payments of $3.3bn to $3.8bn, and the “in-year nbn headwind” to cost between $600-800m. If not for this headwind, the company expects underlying EBITDA may grow as much as $500m in FY20.
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