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PLDT Quarter Profit Falls 9% on Strong Peso

Philippine Long Distance Telephone (PLDT), the country's most valuable firm, said on Tuesday its quarterly net profit fell 9 percent as a strong peso hurt its dollar-linked revenues.

But despite the slide in third quarter profits, PLDT, the country's dominant phone firm with a market value of over $13 billion, raised its core earnings forecast to 34.5-35 billion pesos this year from earlier guidance of 33-34 billion pesos.

"The sustained strength in our core numbers and our sturdy underlying fundamentals, as manifested in our robust nine months' numbers, point to another year of record-high core profitability," Chairman Manuel Pangilinan said in a statement.

PLDT also said in a statement it had approved a plan to change the terms of its 2009, 2012, and 2017 bonds to give it greater flexibility on dividend payments.

Earnings growth at PLDT has been under pressure as the number of people opening new mobile phone accounts slows and competition increases.

A rising peso, up almost 12 percent against the dollar this year, has also hurt earnings from international long distance services and call center operations.

The company, partly owned by Hong Kong's First Pacific and Japan's NTT Group, said it had net income of 9.5 billion pesos in the third quarter against a 10.4 billion pesos a year earlier.

Before the results announcement, analysts forecast PLDT's annual net profit at 34.93 billion pesos, slightly below last year's 35.12 billion pesos, according to Reuters Estimates.

Core earnings, which strip out currency swings and derivative gains, were 9.09 billion pesos in the third quarter, up 13.2 percent from a year earlier.

PLDT, which has about 57 percent share of the local mobile phone industry, said it had a total of 28.3 million subscribers, equivalent to nearly a third of the country's estimated 89 million population.

Filipinos are among the world's biggest users of text messaging, sending some 500 million a day.

Shares of PLDT gained 1.85 percent to 3,030 pesos after the company's results announcement while the main index slid 0.18 percent. The stock rose 9.8 percent in the third quarter, easily outperforming the benchmark index, which fell 2.4 percent during the same period.

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