Pangilinan bullish on PLDT exceeding P30-B core profit guidance

By Arjay L. Balinbin, Senior Reporter

PLDT, Inc. is hoping to exceed its core profit guidance of P29-30 billion for 2021 despite the “worrisome” economic outlook, its top official said.

The company is banking on the “confidence” it built from how it performed during the first year of the coronavirus pandemic, where its full-year attributable net income grew 8% to P24.28 billion.

“We won’t stop at P30 billion; we want to push on,” Manuel V. Pangilinan, PLDT chairman, president and chief executive officer, said at a virtual briefing on Thursday.

He added: “It is tempting to say that we have seen the worst but 2021 comes with its own set of challenges — a worrisome economic outlook, prolonged uncertainty on the pandemic with possible new waves, mutations and a delayed vaccine rollout and of course, the entry of heightened competition from both new and current players.”

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“But with confidence built on how we not only weathered but thrived despite the ‘year from hell’ that was 2020, we anticipate more growth in 2021,” Mr. Pangilinan said.

According to its consolidated full-year report released on Thursday, the company saw its total revenues grow 7% to P181 billion last year, with service revenues increasing 8% to P173.63 billion.

Its telco core income went up 4% to P28.09 billion.

PLDT booked an EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization) margin of 51%.

The company attributed the 73% of its net service revenue of P171.5 billion to data.

By customer segment, PLDT’s individual business contributed P82.7 billion (up 15%) to the service revenues, followed by home at P41.4 billion (up 11%), and enterprise at P41.2 billion (up 5%).

The company’s consolidated capital expenditure investments from 2011 to 2020 reached P286.4 billion.

It plans to spend between P88 billion and P92 billion this year, mainly to support the exponential rise in mobile data traffic.

The company is confident it will keep its dominance despite the commercial presence of the third telco player, DITO Telecommunity Corp., that is expected to focus on underserved areas.

“We cannot comment on what DITO is doing, but what I can really tell you is that… they cannot even get close to the coverage we have already,” PLDT-Smart Communications, Inc. Chief Technology and Information Advisor Joachim Horn said.

“So, therefore, they will take a long time to catch up, even in remote areas,” he added.

Mr. Pangilinan signaled at the briefing that he might step down as the company’s CEO soon.

“There’s always a time to give up, and I think the time is soon,” he said. “Don’t worry, I will keep my word.”

PLDT shares closed 0.08% lower at P1,290 apiece on Thursday.

Hastings Holdings, Inc., a unit of PLDT Beneficial Trust Fund subsidiary MediaQuest Holdings, Inc., has a stake in BusinessWorld through the Philippine Star Group, which it controls.

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