Tuesday, September 28, 2021

Tulabut: Pandemic gains

My Palm Notes

GLOBAL pandemic notwithstanding, some business gains are being achieved.

Especially for corporate giants such as those in the telco industry. Gloom might be a misnomer for them.

The first quarter of 2021 was bright for PLDT, Inc. as it posted a core income of P7.5 billion which is said to be a nine percent increase from the year-ago level of P6.88 billion.

Its consolidated revenues also climbed 9.80 percent to P47.92 billion from the P43.65 billion reported in the same period a year ago. Service revenues rose 9.28 percent to P45.68 billion from P41.80 billion previously, with data/broadband services accounting for around 76 percent of the total.

PLDT Chairman and P/CEO Manny Pangilinan, in his usual charismatic talk to media last week, is optimistic that the Philippines’ most legitimate integrated telco company would reach its target of P29 to P30 billion for 2021. That is if the trend continues (which will likely be) as the world reels from the global scourge, gradually.

“We’re seeing good growth in April and in May, the first week of May. And in fact, trending towards low double-digit growth for the second quarter. So it depends on how the government will relax restrictions in the second half of this year in terms of its effect on our revenue growth for the full year,” Pangilinan said.


While there is a tougher competition on fiber optic internet connection now with strong showing by Converge ICT Solutions (Converge), a company that traces its roots from a Betamax/VHS rental shop in Angeles City back in the 1980s, PLDT Home hurdled the challenge.

PLDT Home grew by 19 percent in the first quarter of 2021, hitting P10.9 billion in service revenues. To address the need for fast and reliable connectivity at home during the pandemic, PLDT aggressively pushed to connect and empower as many customers as possible so that they could continue to work, learn, and thrive at home. By optimizing processes and leveraging data and analytics for targeted and efficient rollouts, PLDT Home ramped up installations and upgrade capabilities reaching 129,000 in March 2021.

Converge, which was more than aggressive in providing internet service during the pandemic, seems to be on a neck to neck race.

It rolled out half million new Fiber To The Home (FTTH) ports in the first quarter of 2021, resulting in 28 percent household coverage across the Philippines and 50 percent household coverage in Luzon.

It reported “strong subscriber growth coupled with Average Revenue Per User expansion contributed to 109.8 percent YoY (year-on-year) residential revenue growth.”

Converge claims that its residential subscribers grew to almost 1,182,000 as of March 31, 2021 from 615,466 as of March 31, 2020. During 1Q2021 and based on publicly available information, Converge captured 48 percent market share of fixed broadband net adds amongst the three largest broadband operators in the Philippines, representing an increase in fixed broadband market share from 19 percent in March 2020 to 27 percent in March 2021.

Its net income after tax almost tripled from P574 million in 1Q 2020 to P1.5 billion in 1Q 2021.

The two leading telcos reported their EBITDAs (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) to be on an uptrend.

PLDT is up seven percent year-on-year to P23.3 billion on higher service revenues, margin at 51 percent.

Converge’s margins expanded from 50.1 percent in 1Q2020 to 55.0 percent in 1Q 2021.


There are few commonalities between MVP and Converge’s Dennis Uy (not the Davao guy).

For one, they are both Cabalens. MVP is from Apalit, Pampanga while Dennis is from Angeles City. Both created an empire out of struggling companies. I love hearing them both discuss business insights. It is just unfortunate that for this first quarter disclosure reports, I only got to hear MVP as that of Converge/Dennis Uy seemed exclusive to Manila media.

PLDT, steered to its lofty and enviable status now by MVP since the early 2000s, will soon have a new face as he passes on the baton to the young, dashing and of course a true corporate scion Al Panlilio.

The latter, now Chief Revenue Officer and Smart president, would assume the post as PLDT President and CEO, with Pangilinan retaining the chairmanship of the 93-year-old company.

During the briefing last week where even media practitioners from outside Metro Manila were invited and participated, Panlilio appeared so unassuming and very much in his professional aura of outstanding leadership.

Even while busy with basketball leadership chores as President of Samahan ng Basketbol ng Pilipinas where he is to spearhead the FIBA Qualifiers round in the Philippines, Panlilio’s appointment is expected to be confirmed during the annual stockholders meeting of PLDT next month.


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