By Stuart Thomson
Malaysian pay TV operator Astro turned in a solid fourth quarter in the face of the global pandemic, drawing a slew of positive notes from analysts.
Astro recently launched the Ulti Box to expand its connected home footprint
Astro posted revenues of MYR1.11 billion or €227 million(US$267,442,320.00) for the quarter. Profit after tax and minority interests stood at MYR168 million. Advertising expenditure recovered in the face of the country’s COVID-19-induced lockdown and ended at MYR130 million for the quarter.
Full-year revenue amounted to MYR4.4 billion and profit after tax was MYR540 million.
CEO Henry Tan pointed to the success of the company’s cloud recording and startover features, recently introduced, and the success of its 4K UHD Ultra box, which saw a fivefold increase in installations to 230,000.
Astro recently introduced a new HD box, the Ulti Box, in a move designed to bring connected features to more households, while all standard definition channels on the platform are being upgraded to HD.
Astro Go, the company’s TV everywhere product, which has been upgraded to include download to go and other features, saw an increase in monthly active users of 13 per cent to 1.3 million.
The results drew praise from analysts.
Citibank noted that earnings were ahead of most estimates – although not its own – and said that “Astro is executing well to slow the decline in traditional pay TV and exploring new growth engines”.
On the downside Citibank foresaw continued revenue pressure on the company, but noted that revenue decline hd slowd in Q4 and that costs sere well-managed.
“Admittedly we do see challenges for the TV business to persist due to OTT cannibalization. However, its calculated investments in the new growth engines should help to mitigate the impact,” said Citi, pointing the growth of Astro’s Goshop home shopping business.
Macquarie Research gave the company an outperform rating and pointed to positive future developments including the likelihood of new streaming partnerships this year, along with a plug-and-play model for set-top boxes, and option to run on existing broadband connections and simplified packages.
CGS-CIMB pointed to the boost the company had received from its home shopping business and also highlighted the importance of streaming, with Astro expected to launch its own streaming product later this year.