I think readers of my blog would have seen quite a fair bit of posts on Singapore Telecom shares Singtel, Starhub and M1 Limited.
The consensus from the public is that Singtel provides low but growing dividends, Starhub provides high dividends that will eventually need to come down as it is unsustainable and that M1 is the most attractive of all.
I have written time and again why Starhub’s debts is not unsustainable. [Explanation here] Starhub’s debt to equity ratio is high because their equity is very very very small.
A better measure for telecom shares as illustrated in my last article could be Net Debts over Operating Cash Flow.
Today Starhub released their 2nd Quarter 2011 results.
- Presentation Slides
Better Operating Cash Flow
Profit from operations improved. On first glance operating revenue for qtr 2 improved only 0.1%
The kicker for Starhub was that operating expenses improved 3.1%. That’s not a lot you say but the combination created a 22.6% improvement in profit from operations.
Finance Expenses and Income also greatly improved.
We look back and remember what Starhub’s CEO said about the difficult times when Starhub subsidized greatly their iPhone to compete with Singtel. Back then, he mentioned that they would rather expense this operating cost earlier and enjoy the long term income next time.
Now we could be seeing the fruits of his labor.
A big improvement to free cash flow
Starhub’s Operating Cash Flow for this quarter was 181 mil compare to 154 mil last year. Capital Expenditure stayed roughly the same.
The result of this is that Free Cash Flow for the quarter improved from 110 mil to 140 mil.
For the half year, free cash flow improve from 233 mil to 273 mil.
An improvement to Net Debt Position
Probably to silence the critics who say that debts is not sustainable, Starhub have been paying down the debts these years.
Bank loans totaled 750 mil versus 805 mil last year. Cash totaled 270 mil vs 237 mil last year. In total, net debt improved to 480 mil versus 568 mil last year.
How significant is 480 mil? It is estimated that Operating Cash Flow this year could be 700 mil and free cash flow could be 540 mil. This means that their free cash flow could clear their debts in 1 year.
The Significance of the free cash flow improvement
If Starhub maintains their good performance through the second half of the year, we could be looking at a free cash flow of 540 mil.
This 540 mil can go to pay down their net debt of 480 mil or to pay out more dividends.
More dividends? Now we know that what attracted a lot of people was the 20 cent dividend payout. People was questioning whether it is sustainable.
To payout 20 cent, Starhub have to pay out 340 mil. Now with a free cash flow of 540 mil we can safely say they have no problems meeting this 20 cent dividend.
If Starhub wants to use the full free cash flow to pay dividends, they could improve dividend payout by 58%. This would roughly mean they can pay out 31.6 cents in dividends.
At my average price in my current portfolio of $2.54, my yield would have been 12.44%.
My first purchase was at $2.10 and I do know a lot of folks who have it around that or below. Our yield on those purchase would have been 15% in 1 year!
Now these are estimation and I am sure Starhub will not pay out so much. But it is good to know that even if they do not pay us, it goes to paying down debts or keeping as cash for other purposes.
I was stupid to sell part of it at 2.69 but bought back again at 2.69. If Starhub continues to improve like this, then I am sure the share price would appreciate as well.
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