AIS says revenue growth is on target
The cellular market leader Advanced Info Service Plc expects steady revenue growth of 7% to 8% this year, after posting 8.7% growth in the first half to 42.49 billion baht.
Pornrat Janejarassakul, an AIS vice-president, told investors at a briefing yesterday that first-half growth exceeded targets thanks to strong subscriber growth upcountry, increased revenues from roaming and information services.
Revenue from data services such as short message service (SMS), multimedia message service (MMS) and GPRS data services are projected to reach 10 billion baht for the year, or 10% to 15% higher than last year.
At the end of June, AIS claimed a 51.6% market share in terms of revenues and a 45.2% share in terms of total subscribers. The company currently has a subscriber base of 26 million.
Net profit in the first half was 11.46 billion baht, up 49.8% from the same period last year. First-half earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) margin were 42.9%, or 49.9% if excluding interconnection charges.
Mr Pornrat said AIS had increased its forecasts for its full-year EBITDA margin to 46.47% from 45% thanks to strong revenue growth, a decline in overdue receivables and lower marketing expenses.
Past-due receivables for the company now stand at just 2%, compared with a peak of 7% to 8% last year.
Mr Pornrat said the company expected that usage rates may fall slightly in the second half as consumers cut back on spending due to economic and inflation concerns.
But he said that with provincial clients now accounting for 65% of the company's client base, the overall impact would be slight, as strong agricultural goods prices would help support farm incomes upcountry.
Mr Pornrat added that AIS planned to start third-generation mobile services based on the 900 Megahertz frequency in Bangkok in the first half of 2009.
The company would also offer 3G services on the 2.1 gigahertz frequency from the second quarter of 2009. Up to 90% of AIS's 25-billion-baht investment budget will go to network infrastructure for 3G services.
AIS, 42% owned by Temasek Holdings' Shin Corp, has already begun limited 3G commercial service in Chiang Mai.
Shares of the company closed yesterday on the Stock Exchange of Thailand at 88 baht, down 3.50 baht, in trade worth 352.69 million baht.