S Korean mobile carriers tipped for robust Q1 earnings


Seoul, April 11 (Yonhap) South Korean wireless carriers are estimated to have logged robust earnings in the first quarter on the back of sharp growth in 5G users and their non-telecom businesses, a poll showed on Sunday.

The combined operating profits of the country’s three major mobile carriers — SK Telecom Co., KT Corp. and LG Uplus Corp. — are expected to have reached 966.5 billion won ($863.3 million) in the January-March period, up 6.8 per cent from the previous year, according to the poll on six local brokerage houses by Yonhap Infomax, the financial arm of Yonhap News Agency.

SK Telecom, the biggest of the three in terms of mobile users, is estimated to have posted an operating profit of 339.5 billion won for the first quarter, up 12.42 percent on-year, while its revenue probably rose 6.57 percent on-year to 4.74 trillion won.

Telecom giant KT is expected to have logged 386.3 billion won in operating profit, up 0.84 percent on-year, while the operating profit of LG Uplus is estimated to have risen 9.51 percent to 240.7 billion won.

Analysts said their strong bottom lines come as mobile subscribers to 5G networks sharply rose this year.

“As 5G penetration increases, service sales growth is in full swing, while marketing costs are expected to decline,” Hana Financial Investment analyst Kim Hong-sik said.

South Korea added around 1.8 million 5G users in the first two months of this year, reaching a total of 13.66 million, which accounts for 19 percent of all mobile service subscriptions, according to data from the Ministry of Science and ICT.

SK Telecom had 6.35 million 5G users in February, followed by KT at 4.16 million and LG Uplus at 3.15 million.

Wireless data traffic from 5G smartphones that month accounted for 47 percent of the total.

“With the release of affordable 5G data plans as well as budget 5G phones, net growth in 5G users is expected to increase,” Kim added.