Dialog ends 2019 on a strong note

Tuesday, 18 February 2020 00:10 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}



  • Posts Rs. 10.8 b net profit up by 44% from 2018, contribution to GoSL tax revenue tops Rs. 33.3 b 
  • Makes capex investments worth Rs. 28.6 b in high speed broadband and other infrastructure
  • YTD revenue and EBITDA growth 7%, PAT out paces revenue and EBITDA at 44%
  • Recommended dividend: 40% of earnings, 53 cents per share
  • Operating free cash flow tops Rs. 12 b YTD

The Dialog Axiata Group has concluded the 2019 financial year on a strong note, continuing its growth momentum across all business segments viz. Mobile, Fixed Line, Digital Pay Television, International and Tele-infrastructure businesses.

Dialog CEO Supun Weerasinghe

Group revenue grew by 7% to Rs116.8 billion and resumed growth trajectory on a Quarter-on-Quarter (QoQ) basis to record at Rs. 29.7 billion up 2% and 4% year-on-year (YoY) for Q4 2019.

On the back of revenue performance Group Earnings Before Interest, Tax, Depreciation and Amortisation (EBITDA) grew 7% YTD to reach Rs. 46.7 b for FY 2019, albeit declining 2% on QoQ basis to reach Rs. 11.7 b for Q4 2019. On a year-on-year basis EBITDA grew 1%. The adoption of SLFRS 16, ‘Leases’ with effect from 1 January 2019, translated to an EBITDA upliftment of Rs. 2.6 b, which is a 2.2pp increase in the EBITDA Margin reaching to 40.0% for FY 2019.

During the quarter the Government of Sri Lanka (GoSL) introduced a relief package in the form of eliminating and amending many types of taxes. Consumers of telecommunications services benefited from the lowering of Value Added Tax (VAT) and Telecommunication Levy (TL) along with the removal of Nation Building Tax (NBT). Accordingly, the indirect tax on Voice services has been revised down to 22.60% whilst on Data services the tax has been revised down to 10.20%. These changes were made effective from 1 December 2019.

The Group Net Profit After Tax (NPAT) demonstrated a growth of 44% YTD to record at Rs. 10.8 b for FY 2019 underpinned by strong EBITDA performance and stable currency. On a QoQ and YoY basis NPAT increased 65% and >+100% to record at Rs. 2.4 b, mainly due to the favourable forex impact.

In line with the financial performance of the Group and taking into account the forward investment requirements to serve the nation’s demand for Telecommunication and Digital services, the Board of Directors of Dialog Axiata PLC at its meeting held on 13 February, resolved to propose for consideration by the Shareholders of the Company, a cash dividend to ordinary shareholders amounting to 53 cents (Rs. 0.53) per share totalling to Rs. 4.3 b. 

The said dividend, if approved by shareholders, would translate to a payout of 40% of consolidated Group NPAT for FY 2019 resulting in a Dividend Yield of 4.3% and a Total Shareholder Return (TSR) of 26.1%. The dividend so proposed will be considered for approval by the shareholders at the Annual General Meeting (AGM) of the Company, the date pertaining to which would be notified in due course.

Dialog Group continued to be a significant contributor to state revenues, remitting a total of Rs. 33.3 b to the GoSL during the financial year ended 31 December 2019. Total remittances included Direct Taxes and Levies amounting to Rs. 11 b and Rs. 22.3 b in Consumption Taxes collected on behalf of the GoSL.

The Group capital expenditure for the year ended 31 December 2019 totalled to Rs. 28.6 b, down 6% YTD resulting in a Capex to Revenue ratio of 24%. Capital expenditure was directed towards transforming Dialog into a digital telco, by digitising all spheres of the organisation, and investments in High-Speed Broadband infrastructure to further strengthen the Group’s leadership in Sri Lanka’s Broadband sector. Accordingly, the Group recorded Operating Free Cash Flow (OFCF) of Rs. 12.3 b for FY 2019. Group Net Debt to EBITDA ratio remained healthy at 0.86 times as at end of 2019.

During the quarter Dialog won the coveted ‘Industrial IoT Initiative of the Year’ award for its affordable and purpose-built IoT solutions for industries in emerging markets, at the 7th annual Global Telecoms Awards (GLOTEL Awards) held in London. 

These affordable and purpose-built solutions comprised of a range of industrial IoT applications, enabled by the i-Moni IoT Gateway for smart infrastructure monitoring and automation, state-of-the-art utility IoT applications enabled by smart communication modules for smart metering, and network monitoring devices for low voltage power distribution networks. The solutions were developed end-to-end in Sri Lanka by Dialog together with the Dialog-University of Moratuwa Mobile Communications Research Laboratory, and industry partners Axiata Digital Labs (ADL) and Lanka Electricity Company (LECO).

At an entity level, Dialog Axiata PLC (the Company) continued to contribute a major share of Group revenue (71%) and Group EBITDA (76%). Company revenue declined 2% YTD to record at Rs. 82.6 b for FY 2019 mainly due to the transfer of international wholesale business from company to its fully owned subsidiary Dialog Broadband Networks (DBN). 

On a QoQ basis revenue remained flat albeit declining 4% on a YoY basis to record at Rs. 20.5 b for Q4 2019. The Company EBITDA was recorded at Rs. 35.5 b for FY 2019 representing an increase of 17% YTD and it reached Rs. 8.8 b for Q4 2019 down 3% QoQ and up 53% YoY. The adoption of SLFRS 16 had a positive impact on FY 2019 EBITDA performance of the Company resulting in an upliftment of Rs. 2.4 b for the year.

Downstream of EBITDA performance, the Company NPAT was recorded at Rs. 11.6 b for FY 2019 up 165% YTD. NPAT reached Rs. 3 b for Q4 2019 up 62% QoQ and >+100% YoY.

Dialog Television (DTV), continued to consolidate its leadership position in the Digital Pay Television space with a subscriber growth of 25% YoY for the year ended 31 December 2019. Underpinned by strong subscriber growth, DTV revenue grew by 17% YTD to be recorded at Rs. 8.8 b for FY 2019 while revenue reached Rs. 2.2 b for Q4 2019 up 18% YoY. On the back of strong cost management focus, DTV EBITDA recorded a growth of 31% YTD to reach Rs. 2.4 b for FY 2019. Accordingly, DTV Net Loss declined to Rs. 541 m for FY 2019 relative to a Net Loss of Rs. 915 m recorded in FY 2018.

Dialog Broadband Networks (DBN) featuring the Group’s Fixed Telecommunications, Broadband and International Businesses recorded revenue of Rs. 28.1 b for FY 2019 up 64% YTD, mainly due to the increase in wholesale business revenue, while on a QoQ and YoY basis revenue grew 4% and 36% respectively to reach Rs. 7.5 b for Q4 2019. DBN EBITDA recorded a decline of 23% YTD to reach Rs. 9.2 b, resulting from the one-off gain of Rs. 3.7 b recognised in Q4 2018. The normalised EBITDA for DBN recorded a growth of 11% YTD for the year ended 31 December 2019. However, NPAT declined to Rs. 411 m for FY 2019 from Rs. 1.3 b (normalised for one-off gain) recorded in FY 2018.