SINGAPORE (Reuters) - Singapore Telecommunications Ltd (STEL.SI) beat forecasts with a 6 percent rise in third-quarter net profit, as strength in its regional affiliates helped overcome the negative impact of a volatile foreign currency market.
Southeast Asia's largest telecommunications operator posted a net profit for the October-December quarter of S$872 million, beating an average forecast of $857 million by five analysts polled by Reuters.
Its earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were nearly flat from a year earlier at S$1.26 billion.
The company's operating revenue declined 7.3 percent on the year to S$4.26 billion, hit by the sharp decline in the Australian dollar, it said on Thursday.
SingTel's share of its associates' pre-tax profits saw a strong 11 percent gain, mainly thanks to robust earnings growth from Bharti Airtel Ltd (BRTI.NS), the top mobile phone operator in India in which SingTel has a 32 percent stake.
Its total number of mobile customers increased 3 percent in the quarter to 501 million, SingTel said.
SingTel's major overseas businesses are in Australia, India and Indonesia. The Australian dollar, the Indonesian rupiah and the Indian rupee declined 9 percent, 18 percent and 12 percent respectively against the Singapore dollar during the quarter.
The company revised guidance on segment performance for the financial year ending March 2014, expecting low double-digit declines in consumer business revenue and low single-digit falls in enterprise business income.
"We have updated our revenue guidance for Group Consumer and Group Enterprise as a result of the weak Australian dollar and the more cautious business environment and spending," Group CEO Chua Sock Koong said in a statement.
(Reporting by Rujun Shen; Editing by Stephen Coates)
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