Astro posts higher profit in 4Q

Celebrating its 25th year this year, Astro plans to launch its own streaming service catering to millennials


ASTRO Malaysia Holdings Bhd recorded a higher net profit in its fourth quarter ended Jan 31, 2021 (4Q21), but it remains cautious that the movement restriction risks could impact the group’s revenue this year.

The company’s earnings rose 20.8% year-on-year (YoY) to RM167.83 million in 4Q21 from RM138.92 million a year ago, mainly due to lower net financing costs and tax expenses, offset by drop in Ebitda and depreciation of property, plant and equipment.

The company, in a bourse filing yesterday, noted that its Ebitda margin improved by 1.7% against the corresponding quarter, attributed to lower content costs and licence, copyright and royalty fees, offset by higher merchandise costs, staff-related costs and impairment of receivables, as a percentage of revenue.

Turnover was lower at RM1.11 billion, down 9.5% YoY due to a decrease in subscription and advertising revenue and offset by an increase in merchandise sales.

Its TV segment’s revenue declined by 9.1% to RM952.2 million in the quarter versus RM1.05 billion registered a year prior due to a drop in subscription and advertising revenue.

Its home shopping’s revenue grew by 10.1% YoY to RM110.5 million in the period due to consumers’ shift to online shopping.

For its full financial year 2021 (FY21), Astro’s net profit fell by 17.6% YoY to RM539.85 million from RM655.3 million in FY20 due to the decrease in Ebitda.

Revenue for the year fell 11.2% YoY to RM4.36 billion due to a drop in subscription and advertising revenue.

“Astro remains cautious on uncertainties relating to Covid-19, even as Malaysia commences its national vaccine rollout. Any reimposition or tightening of Movement Control Order to curb Covid-19 outbreaks may impact advertising and commercial revenues,” the group noted in a statement yesterday.

Astro declared a fourth interim dividend of 1.5 sen per share and proposed a final dividend of 2.5 sen per share, translating to a full-year dividend of eight sen per share.

This represents 77% of the group’s FY21 profit. The dividend is payable on April 23, 2021.

Group CEO Henry Tan said with Astro’s latest “Cloud Recording” and “Play from Start” features, its connected 4K-Ultra High Definition (HD) Ultra Box installations recorded a five-fold increase to 230,000, while On Demand videos streamed have tripled to 222 million in FY21.

“To deliver a higher quality viewing experience, all standard definition channels are being upgraded to HD.

“Astro Go, enhanced with ‘Pre-Access’ and ‘download-to-go’ features, saw an increase in its monthly active users by 13% YoY to 1.3 million, while its average weekly viewing time rose 8% to 187 minutes,” Tan said.

Astro’s higher digital advertising expenditure also recovered as live production resumed alongside the premieres of Astro Originals.

Celebrating its 25th year this year, Astro plans to launch its own streaming service catering to millennials, which will combine its vernacular content and premium live sports.

It will also enhance local content by producing more premiums for Astro Originals.

“Our intent is to offer a great entertainment experience across all screens for every- one, whether individuals, homes or enterprises,” Tan said.

Read our previous report here

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