Wednesday, 11 April 2018

Takeaways from M1 AGM 2018

M1 AGM 2018

Date: 11/04/2018

Duration: 2.30 - 3.55 pm

Turnout: Full house (I nearly couldn't get a seat until an M1 staff led me to an empty seat at the 2nd row.

Questions from the floor

Q: Explanation for the higher EBITDA and lower net profit.

A: This is due to higher amortisation* for new investments such as narrow band internet of things (NBIOT).

* rightfully EBITDA should be before amortisation.

NBIOT is largely for B2B. Earnings from this segment takes time as things like smart meterings, smart lamp posts, smart flood monitoring, etc takes time to develop.

Q: How will M1 defend against the new Telco entrant?

A: M1 will continue to invest in their Telco business. However they do not intend to engage in price war.

Q: Can M1 diversify from its traditional source of income to reduce its vulnerability?

A: M1 is actually quite glad that they are not in the pay-tv segment due to players such as Netflix.

M1's fixed services grew 24.5% and M1 is pushing on that area.

M1 is not sitting just on mobile. They are looking for opportunities such as acquisitions.

Q: Can M1 lower their CAPEX than that of TPG's?

A: TPG stated their CAPEX as $250 M. However M1 estimated the figure should be $500 M instead.

Moving forward M1's CAPEX will be around $100 - 120 M.

Q: How does M1 intends to deal with the ~$200 M spectrum fee paid?

A: Amortise it over 15 years.

Q: How will M1 handle the high cost of interest payments to avoid affecting the dividends payout?

A: M1 has short term facilities to use.

Rights issue is not likely unless it's a last resort.

M1 used bank loans as those have the cheapest cost among all options including bonds.

Q (interesting as it tells us the operational readiness of TPG): Status of TPG now?

A: TPG has 200 base stations now. Some of them are interconnected.

M1 has 2,500.

Q: M1 already has a $450 M bank loan. How does M1 intends to fund the new spectrum?

A: M1's gearing is still low compared to the Telco industry. They can still borrow from their short and medium term facilities.

Q: How does M1's board feels about M1's future in the next 5 years which are challenging?

A: Acknowledged that next few years are indeed challenging.

They will be controlling costs.

M1 also has avenues to increase revenues but these take times.

The suffering revenue from mobile segment can hopefully be covered by these new sources of revenues, which might even be more than that of the mobile segment.

Q: How does M1 retains customers instead of them porting around?

A: Through sunrisers for high spenders, sunperks points and multisaver discounts.

M1 is also the Telco of choice for MPA due to their superior 4.5G network.

Q (this is my favourite question among all): What is the growth plan of M1? Does M1 intends to venture overseas? There's only one new entrant and yet M1's share price has fallen by half from its peak.

A: M1 is apprehensive about the start up costs of venturing overseas.

Telco industry is high cost, not like setting up a bank overseas.

Telco industry is also a highly regulated one to enter.

M1 has to be realistic about their financial capability. To raise funds for overseas venture, M1 has to ask money from the shareholders and the 3 major shareholders have to agree first.

However there are many ways to expand abroad. One way is through partnerships. E.g. to bring M1's IoT capability to the overseas market.

Q: CAPEX is high last year. How does M1 intends to arrest that?

A: M1 is investing for the future. And that is reflected in the high CAPEX and acquisitions.

Moving forward, estimated CAPEX will be lowered to $100 - 120 M per year.

Comment from one of the shareholders: M1's website is old-fashion and doesn't appeal to the younger generation.

Resolutions: All passed.

The above are what I have garnered. I have probably missed out some questions as I was focusing on the replies from the board. I have also left out some which I feel is not that important.

Summary and my thoughts

M1 is reluctant to expand overseas to be a full fledge Telco like what TPG has done in Singapore. This is due to their financial capability.

This in my opinion, is a double-edge sword. 

By doing so they are limiting their growth as Singapore is only this big. However this also limits their risk to external environments of which a single mistake might wipe out all the cash generated so painstakingly especially since their financial capability is not big.

For M1, their focus now is controlling costs and continue to build on to their mobile base. Growth comes from their new initiatives such as the IoTs which I personally find promising in terms of being a new revenue driver for M1.

Personally I will continue to stay vested in M1 since the dividend yield is still attractive while I awaits the contributions from the new sources.

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