Three’s earnings rise despite sales dip, as it tightens the noose on costs

Jump in contract customer numbers helps mobile operator increase earnings 22%

Canning Fok, group managing director of Hutchison Whampoa Limited with Robert Finnegan CEO of Three Ireland. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

Canning Fok, group managing director of Hutchison Whampoa Limited with Robert Finnegan CEO of Three Ireland. Photograph: Brenda Fitzsimons

 

A jump in contract customer numbers and stringent cost control helped the State’s second-largest mobile operator Three Ireland post a 22 per cent rise in earnings in the first half of the year.

The company’s earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (Ebitda) rose to €94 million in the six months to the end of June, according to group results released in Hong Kong by Three’s parent, CK Hutchison Holdings.

The rise in earnings came despite an €8 million, or 3 per cent, fall in revenues to €290 million, which Three partially blamed on cuts in European roaming charges that “more than offset” any benefit to the company of its recently changed price plans.

The fall in “service revenues”, effectively call charges, was higher at 6 per cent, but the blow was cushioned by increased sales from selling handsets, as Three boosted its active customer base with 80,000 new subscribers, bringing the total to 2.1 million.

The parent group in Hong Kong lauded the “disciplined spending” approach of local management. Operational costs at Three Ireland were down 11 per cent, it said.

The company accelerated its capital expenditure to €62 million from €46 million, as Three continues to invest in its network.

Data traffic on Three Ireland’s network during the six months was up 50 per cent while its data roaming almost quadrupled, the company said.

Robert Finnegan, Three Ireland’s chief executive, described the results as a “solid performance”. He said the group would continue to invest in an “ambitious network investment programme”.

“Our focus now is on planning the rollout of a 5G network that will deliver super-fast broadband to homes and businesses all over Ireland at lower costs than traditional fibre,” Mr Finnegan said.