TelstraClear edges into the black

Ex-TVNZ CEO Rick Ellis: in charge of parent company Telstra's new Media Group
TelstraClear chief executive Allan Freeth

TelstraClear edged into the black for the six months ending December 31 – at least in local currency, standalone terms.

In parent company Telstra's consolidated result, TelstraClear is reported making a $A9 million ebit loss - an improvement on its year-ago $A17 million ebit loss.

In its standalone business unit result, reported in New Zealand dollars with intercompany costs stripped out, TelstraClear reported ebit of $1 million for the half-year, against an $8 million ebit loss for the year-ago period.

Ebitda increased by 11.3% to $69.

Revenue fell 4% to $353 million.

TelstraClear’s capex nudged up 2.8% to $37 million but total operating expenses (inflated in the prior half year by costs associated with offshoring and other restructuring) fell 7.2% to $270 million.

A TelstraClear spokesman said a net profit figure was not included because it was a half-year result.

In notes accompanying its half-year profit announcement, Telstra said “There continues to be significant uncertainty as to the full future impact of the UFB [Ultrafast Broadband project] on the business of TelstraClear.”

In a statement, TelstraClear CFO Alex Ball said, “We expect to continue to perform well during the final half of the financial year despite the continuing impact of the economy on revenue and higher levels of bad and doubtful debt. We remain committed to Christchurch and our network and customers there. We are also committed to providing high quality products and services over both our own high speed HFC network and the new government-promoted UFB.”

The company's cellphone business remains modest. A spokesman told NBR that mobile customer numbers - last reported at 45,000 - had increased to 47,000. TelstraClear has hopped back-and-forth between selling rebadged versions of Telecom and Vodafone's mobile service.

RAW DATA: Telstra half-year result to Dec 31, 2011

Telstra profit up 23%
TelstraClear’s Australian parent company, Telstra, this morning reported its net profit had increased by 23% to $A1.47 billion.

Analysts had been expecting a $A1.52 billion net profit.

Revenue rose 1% to $A12.4 billion.

Ebitda was up 3.7% to $A4.75 billion. Ebit rose 7.9% to $A2.56 billion.

Telstra’s fixed line business followed the trend afflicting carriers worldwide, with revenue falling 9% as 136,000 customers were lost.

Telstra handily beat analysts’ expectations, in mobile, adding 958,000 new customers (up on the expected 700,000).

In wireless broadband, Telstra added 436,000, well above analysts’ pick of 133,000.

The company re-affirmed its guidance of “low single digit” ebitda and revenue growth for the remainder of its fiscal year, and a 28 cent dividend for 2012 and 2013.

A structural separation plan still has be approved by the ACCC to facilitate Telstra’s participation in the National Broadband Network (NBN).

Over the next six months, investors’ eyes will also be on the newly created Telstra Media Group, which consolidates BigPond (Telstra’s retail ISP business), Foxtel, IPTV, Trading Post (an online classified ad site) and the struggling Sensis (directories) into one $A4 billion (by revenue) unit headed by recently departed TVNZ CEO Rick Ellis.

Telstra shares [ASX:TLS] were down 7 cents to $A3.37 in midday trading.

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