Dow Jones Stock Market Today – Telstra Holds Dividend Despite 3.6% Fall in 1st Half Net Profit — Update
By Stuart Condie
SYDNEY–Telstra Corp. Ltd. maintained its interim dividend and expects it will continue to do so despite first-half profit falling 3.6% on the continued impact of the government-owned national broadband network and lower mobile revenue.
Australia’s largest communications provider said Thursday that net profit attributable to shareholders for the six months through December fell to 1.10 billion Australian dollars (US$851.4 million), from A$1.14 billion a year earlier. Total income fell 10% to A$12.0 billion.
Telstra will pay a dividend of 8.0 Australian cents, in the form of an interim dividend of 5.0 cents and a special dividend of 3.0 cents, the same as at its FY 2020 results six months ago.
Telstra said it anticipated paying a final dividend of 8.0 Australian cents.
Stripping out one-off costs that included A$60 million of restructuring charges, Telstra recorded underlying earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization of A$3.3 billion. The company narrowed its fiscal 2021 Ebitda range to A$6.6 billion to A$6.9 billion, from A$6.5 billion to A$7.0 billion previously.
Mobile income fell by 12% to A$4.7 billion, hit by depressed roaming revenues due to restrictions on international travel and reduced professional services revenue.
Telstra said the move to pay out 125% of underlying earnings as dividends was well supported by cashflow. Chairman John Mullen had said in October the company was prepared to temporarily overshoot its 70%-90% target payout ratio to maintain the dividend.
The dividend could be supported after FY 2021 by plans announced in November to monetize its mobile tower assets. Telstra on Thursday said it was undertaking due diligence on the assets and is aiming to receive binding offers by the second quarter of fiscal 2022.
Credit Suisse last month valued Telstra’s TowerCo unit at about A$4.7 billion, citing European transactions valuing similar assets at Ebitda multiples in the mid-to-high 20s.
Telstra is also creating an infrastructure unit holding assets including data centers and sub-sea cables, and a services unit to hold products and assets such as mobile spectrum. The split will give Telstra the appropriate legal structure to make an approach for NBN assets when they are eventually privatized.
Telstra, which like other retailers resells NBN access, said it had engaged constructively with the NBN’s holding company on the restructure.
Write to Stuart Condie at [email protected] Zoom.com
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
February 10, 2021 17:01 ET (22:01 GMT)
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