C&W Bottom Line Hurt by Caribbean Performance

 

According to a Caribbean360 report, the recently-released annual results for Cable and Wireless Communications Plc (CWC) indicate that profits rose by 21 percent and stood at US$462 million. However, business in the Caribbean declined by three percent.

CWC Chief Executive Tony Rice said the company has had to “navigate some choppy waters in the Caribbean”, which accounts for 30 percent of the group’s revenue.

In a breakdown of the performance of its various services in the Caribbean, CWC said mobile revenue was six percent lower; fixed voice revenue fell nine percent; broadband and TV revenue improved six percent even though broadband subscribers declined; and enterprise, data and other revenue was 11 percent higher than last year.

According to the report, lower usage and a higher rate of subscribers leaving the company caused the revenues to slide, primarily in Jamaica, as a result of the economic environment.

“The Caribbean has been more difficult than we anticipated at the time of demerger (in March) and we continue to face weak or declining economies across the region,” Rice said.

“Looking ahead, 2011/12 will be a year of transition and investment for CWC…However we are cautious on the economic and financial outlook for the Caribbean,” he added, noting that the company expects earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization (EBITDA) to be between US$180 and $210 million – excluding the Bahamas operations –, down from US$229 million for the year ending March 31, 2011.

CWC said that as a result of the 51 percent stake it recently acquired in the Bahamas Telecommunications Company (BTC), it expects that business to achieve EBITDA of approximately US$100, taking into consideration savings from restructuring and efficiency programmes.

Specific to Jamaica, CWC explained that challenge which were faced.

“The regulatory environment in Jamaica continues to be a concern and we are taking appropriate steps so that the proposed merger between two mobile competitors in Jamaica will not further undermine the ability of our business to compete effectively,” the report said, making reference to the announced deal between Digicel and Claro.

In its outlook for the Caribbean, excluding the Bahamas, CWC said it does not anticipate market conditions to improve materially in 2011/12.

“Any modest increases in GDP are unlikely to significantly reduce unemployment or materially improve disposable income during the next 12 months, both of which are key drivers for our business,” it said.

“We anticipate inflationary pressures to have a negative impact on operating costs, especially salary and utility costs, two of the largest operating cost items. We continue to invest in new initiatives to position the business for the recovery, but benefits from the investments are unlikely to be significant in the current economic environment.”

Rice has indicated, however, that there are no plans to exits the region.

“We’ve been there for a hundred odd years and we expect to see it through,” he said.

Following the news that C&W’s profits were being hit by declining revenues in the region, shares in the group dropped by more than nine percent to their lowest level since the demerger that split the company into Cable & Wireless Worldwide, which focuses on telecoms services to business mostly in the UK, and CWC, which runs consumer telecoms services in 38 territories outside the UK.

(Parts of this article were written with content submitted in a Caribbean360 release)


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