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Telecom Half Year Result

TELECOM HALF YEAR RESULT – 6 MONTHS ENDED 31 DECEMBER 2005

2 February 2006
toptop

Telecom today reported a net loss of NZ$466 million after tax for the half year to December 31, 2005, after a NZ$897 million write-down of the carrying value of the company’s Australian operations. Adjusted net earnings for the half year were $395 million compared with $398 million for the corresponding period in 2004, a decrease of 0.8 percent.

The impairment charge of NZ$897 million (A$836 million) reduces the carrying value of the Australian operations from A$1.464 billion to A$628 million, based on revised future cash flow forecasts. Abnormal items in the December quarter totalled $871 million and these items are listed at the end of this release.
Overview of Group results
Half year (NZ$m)
31 Dec 05 31 Dec 04 Change %
Revenue 2,854 2,798 2.0
Expenses (1,784) (1,708) 4.4
Abnormal items (871) 15 NM
Reported EBITDA* 199 1,105 (82.0)
Adjusted EBITDA* 1,070 1,090 (1.8)
Reported EBIT (146) 756 NM
Adjusted EBIT 725 741 (2.2)
Reported Net loss (466) 413 NM
Adjusted net earnings 395 398 (0.8)
Adjusted EPS (cps) 20.2 20.5 (1.5%)
* Earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation
Note: All comparisons in the above tables and commentary below relate to the half year to 31 December 2005 compared with the same period in 2004. All figures are expressed in New Zealand dollars unless otherwise stated. The prior quarter and half year comparative results have been restated to comply with International Financial Reporting Standards (IFRS), which Telecom adopted from 1 July 2005.

Telecom Chief Executive Theresa Gattung said the result reflected good performance in New Zealand, driven by strategic investments in new areas of growth, and continuing challenges in Australia. “In New Zealand the big drivers of performance are areas such as IT services, mobile, broadband and on-line services.

In all those areas we have invested in a number of key initiatives to expand our business and diversify our revenue base. “It is very pleasing to see these strategies delivering, more than offsetting the decline in ot
her areas such as calling. We expect to see that trend strengthen.” Ms Gattung said the adjustment to the Australian operations carrying value reflected a difficult trading environment in Australia. A mix of falling retail prices and rising wholesale charges as well as the deferral of major project expenditure by key enterprise customers of Gen-i Australia had made the Australian marketplace very challenging.

“However, we remain positive about the investments we have made in a number of major change initiatives at AAPT (as outlined at May 2005) and expect to see these materially impact performance in the next financial year and beyond,’’ Ms Gattung said. “During the December quarter the New Zealand business performed very strongly with growth in most areas. "Mobile connection growth in the quarter was very strong – 135,000 new connections, our best quarter for several years.

This has brought our total mobile connections to more than 1.8 million. “Momentum in our mobile business continues to drive double-digit revenue growth while mobile data growth (64% in Q2 compared to the previous corresponding quarter) remains very strong, reflecting the take-up of T3G and messaging services.

“During the quarter we delivered on our promise to deploy Mobile Broadband through EV-DO to every main town and city in New Zealand by Christmas 2005. “In broadband we continue to achieve strong take-up with 38,000 new customers in the December quarter. Approximately 35,000 were residential and 47% of these came from wholesale.’’

“We’ve continued to support the broadband market with attractive promotions such as free connections and free modems to stimulate growth. “The wholesale market will be further boosted by last month’s commercial agreement enabling TelstraClear to sell UBS and wholesale services. We expect to offer broadly similar plans to other wholesale providers. “We’re on track for positive EBITDA growth in the New Zealand business for the full year. It’s very pleasing to see the targeted investment that we’ve made driving growth in mobile, broadband and IT Services. Our directories and International businesses have also had a good quarter.” New Zealand

Operating revenue was $2,245 million, an increase of 5.4%. Higher operating revenues for mobile, data, broadband and internet, IT services and directories were partly offset by declines in traditional services such as local service and calling revenues, however declines in the latter slowed in the half year. Local Service

Total local service revenue decreased 1.9% to $523 million, reflecting mostly businesses migrating from dial-up to broadband and internet. Residential access lines were stable on 1,412,000. Calling revenue comprises national calling (national calls, calls to mobile networks and national 0800) and international calling (calls out of and into New Zealand and transit call traffic between destinations worldwide) Total calling revenue was $489 million compared with $502 million in the December 2004 half year National calling revenue was $297 million, a decrease of 6%

International calling revenue was $167 million, a rise of 2.5% Total calling revenue was boosted by the impact of international transit revenues, now presented as a gross figure as a result of the adoption of IFRS as of 1 July 2005.

Excluding transit revenues, the decrease in calling revenue is a continuation of both the product substitution and increased competition impacting on Telecom’s traditional national and international calling business. Interconnection revenue, which includes termination of calls on both fixed and mobile networks, increased 6.4% to $83 million, primarily due to mobile interconnection revenues from text messaging growth. Mobile revenue is derived from voice and data services on Telecom’s 027 network (CDMA) and 025 (TDMA) networks as well as 3rd generation mobile (T3G) services. Total mobile revenues increased 10.8% to $380 million Voice revenue was $263 million, an increase of 3.5% Data revenue increased 68.1% to $79 million

Total connections at 31 December 2005 were 1,808,000, an increase of 23.6% (345,000) over the 12 months from 31 December 2004 Net mobile connections for the quarter ended 31 December 2005 were 135,000 Total ARPU (average revenue per user – monthly) including interconnection was $47, a decrease of 8.6%. The lower ARPU is a reflection of the large take-up of prepaid services over the past 12 months Mobile data and revenue growth were driven by services such as Push2Talk, photo and video messaging, Song ID, caller tunes and ring tones CDMA connections account for 80% of the customer base, representing 96% of Q2 2005 voice and data revenues Data

Total data revenue increased 7.8% to $220 million. Data revenue was driven by increased take-up of managed IP data services. Retail data revenue was $177 million, an increase of 7.9% while wholesale data increased 7.5% to $43 million. Broadband and Internet

Total revenue increased 25.2% to $169 million in the half year to 31 December 2005 reflecting strong growth in broadband customers (see broadband release). IT Services (Solutions)

Total IT services revenue was $175 million, an increase of 24.1% or $34 million. Included in this is Computerland revenue of $19 million for July and August 2005, which has no comparable amount in the prior period as Computerland was acquired effective 1 September 2005. Telecom is targeting double the industry growth in this sector for the full year 05/06 following the successful integration of Gen-i and Computerland with Telecom’s IT business. Directories
Directories revenue of $115 million increased by 9.5%, driven by strong sales volumes. Australia

Australian performance is expressed in Australian dollars, including comparisons with prior corresponding periods. Operating revenues were A$599 million, a decrease of 8.5% Q2 06 results were impacted by a significant tightening of wholesale prices and terms with Telstra, continued downward pressure on retail prices and the deferral of major project expenditure by key enterprise customers of Gen-i Australia. AAPT is continuing to invest in systems and technologies to shorten product cycle times, simplify provisioning and improve customer service.

Australian consumer comprises AAPT’s residential and small business fixed line, mobile and Internet operations. Total revenue was A$281 million, a decrease of 9.1% Operating expenses declined 10.8% to A$215 million Business Unit Contribution (revenue less directly attributable costs) was A$66 million, a decrease of 2.9%

While the fixed line customer base of 445,000 decreased 3.3% compared with the prior year (as at 31 December 2005), dial-up connections increased 48.5% to 98,000. Broadband numbers of 63,000 increased 425% and have been growing at approximately 8,000 new customers a month in the first half of 2006. Revenue in mobile declined due to the move away from selling mobile as a stand alone service, and price declines driven by capped offers. A decline in the stand alone mobile base of 27,000 customers was offset by growth in the bundled base of 27,000 customers.

Australian business comprises AAPT’s operations in the business, corporate, government and wholesale markets, and Gen-i Australia. Total revenue was A$318 million, a decrease of 8.1% Operating expenses reduced 2.5% to A$232 million Business unit contribution (revenue less directly attributable costs) was A$86 million, a decrease of 20.4% Business customers have grown to 10,885, an increase of 30.2% on the prior year primarily in the mass area as a result of targeted investment.

Bundled customers have increased to 36%, an increase of 50% on the prior year. The revenue decline reflected price pressures across most product lines (voice, data and internet), reduction in the Toll and VicOne businesses and the deferral of Gen-i Australia customer projects which were offset by growth in SE customers. Dividend

Telecom will pay a fully imputed ordinary dividend for the 2nd quarter ended 31 December 2005 of 9.5 cents per share on 10 March 2006 in New Zealand and Australia, and on 17 March in the United States. On the same date Telecom will pay a fully imputed special dividend of 5 cents per share. The books closing dates are 24 February on the New Zealand and Australian Stock Exchanges and 23 February on the New York Stock Exchange.

As announced at the full year result in August 2005, Telecom will target an ordinary dividend ratio of approximately 85% of net earnings (after adding back relevant non-cash items) for the 2005/2006 year, subject to there being no adverse change in operating outlook.

The dividends for each of the three quarters in the year ending 30 June 2006 are set at 9.5cps and the dividend for the fourth quarter will be set to reflect the full year targeted pay-out ratio.

In addition, and subject to no material adverse change in operating outlook, Telecom will pay a further fully imputed special dividend of 5 cents per share at the full year dividend date in 2005/2006, bringing total special dividends in the year ending 30 June 2006 to 10cps. Capital Expenditure increased by $37 million to $354 million for the half year with increases across the business with the exception of International and Wireless. For the 2006 financial year, Telecom currently expects total capital expenditure of approximately $750 million.

ENDS

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