Forex helps boost XL profits in Q1

Telecommunications operator PT XL Axiata booked an improved bottom line in the first quarter of this year, thanks to the strengthening of the rupiah against the US dollar, which helped boost the company’s profits, as shown in its latest financial report.

XL — whose shares are listed on the Indonesian Stock Exchange (IDX) under the “EXCL” code — saw its net profits rise 20.1 percent year-on-year (y-o-y) to Rp 378.98 billion (US$33.10 million) in the first three months of 2014.

It was the first time XL posted growth in its higher net profits after suffering from foreign exchange (forex) losses for five consecutive quarters, which eventually squeezed its net profits.

“Yes, this time we booked a forex gain that impacted our bottom line positively,” XL finance director Mohamed Adlan bin Ahmad Tajudin said on Wednesday.

The financial report shows that XL booked Rp 477.67 billion in forex gains whereas, a year ago, it suffered from Rp 26.33 billion in forex losses.

According to data from the Jakarta Interbank Spot Dollar Rate (JISDOR) at Bank Indonesia (BI), the rupiah strengthened to 11,487 against the US dollar on May 14, from 12,242 on Jan. 2. This means that the currency strengthened by a total of 6.2 percent year-to-date.

As previously reported, XL — currently 66.5 percent controlled by Malaysia’s Axiata Investments (Indonesia) Sdn. Bhd. — stated that the currency volatility had affected its operations as most of its expenses were made in foreign currencies, especially in US dollars.

Meanwhile, Adlan said that higher data usage from January to March had also impacted its overall financial performance with its revenue climbing 9.8 percent to Rp 5.51 trillion.

“Our data usage grew quite strong on a yearly basis, driven by surging demand for our Internet Unlimited data package. At the same time, the number of our data users increased as well,” he added.

The first quarter report, which already includes Axis’ results following its acquisition by XL on March 19, reveals that the data and value-added services (VAS) segment booked the highest growth among all of the company’s business segments, with a 29 percent increase y-o-y.

By the end of March, its number of data users amounted to 37.5 million, up from 29.1 million a year ago. Meanwhile, its SMS and voice segments rose by 1.9 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively.

However, even though data posted the highest growth, the voice segment remained XL’s single biggest contributor to the revenue figures, making up 34 percent, followed by data and VAS with 23.1 percent, SMS with 19.9 percent and other services with the remaining 23 percent.

As of March 2014, XL operated 45,600 base transceiver stations (BTS), 33 percent of which are node Bs, or base stations for 3G networks.

“All of them are XL’s BTS. We have not yet included Axis’ stations and will integrate them in our second quarter report, but most of Axis’ users have migrated to our system,” Adlan said.

According to the report, XL had Rp 60.74 trillion in total assets, while its liabilities and equities stood at Rp 46.27 trillion and Rp 14.47 trillion, consecutively.

Following the announcement of XL’s first quarter results, its shares climbed 2.4 percent to end at

Rp 5,225 apiece on Wednesday from the day before.

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