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BTL’s revenue falls, but cost cuts raise profits

Belize City, Wed. Oct. 6, 2021– Belize Telemedia Ltd. (BTL) has issued its Annual General Meeting (AGM) Report for 2020-2021, in which the company presented figures that outlined its financial standing/performance for fiscal year April 1, 2020, to March 31, 2021. What the report indicates is that there was considerable contraction in the company’s revenue over the past year — with a 17% drop ($29M) in the company’s income being reported. Nonetheless, the company was able to achieve a net profit that is 605% more than it was last year, through what the chairman of BTL’s board of directors, Mark Lizarraga, described as “cost optimization and organizational evolution”. According to the report, the company’s total revenue for the year was $141.3M, and there was a noteworthy 15% increase of earnings before Interest, Taxes, Depreciation and Amortization (EBITDA) from $55.7M in 2020 to $64M in 2021 that the report again attributes to the company’s “strategic cost containment measures”. Those measures appear to have yielded the previously mentioned 605% increase in net profit — from $1.2M to $8.7M, with a resulting increase of earnings per share to shareholders, which is reported to be 14 cents per share this year. Additionally, shareholders’ equity increased from $228.2M to $234.6M (3%) after the payment of dividends and the transfer of net profits.

The report also provided a breakdown of the company’s revenue for the fiscal year. It noted that Mobile Revenue, primarily derived from prepaid sales, decreased by $13.5M when compared to the previous year. Roaming revenue also decreased by $4.7M (primarily attributed to the shutdown of the tourism sector), while postpaid revenue increased by $1.3M compared to the year prior. Legacy Network Revenues saw a decline of $6M (33%) when compared to the previous year, while there was an $11M plunge in Sales and Solutions Revenues, which resulted from a $6M decrease in merchandise sales and a $5M decrease in one-time sales for corporate solutions. On a more favorable note, the company noted that its Fiber to the Home (FTTH) network, which has been expanded to 90% of all homes countrywide, has yielded the company a $1.7M increase when compared to the prior year, and the company also noted that it is expected to complete the phase-out of its previous copper network within twelve months.

The Chairman’s message to Shareholders outlined some of the adjustments that were made in order to increase profits despite the considerable reduction in revenue earned by the company. He noted that “by aggressively seeking discounts from local and international vendors, renegotiating contracts, in-sourcing, and reducing operational expenses countrywide”, the company was able to achieve savings of $24M.

The company also successfully negotiated a new Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) for 2021-2024 with the Belize Communications Workers Union, which was achieved through monthly town hall sessions with their internal staff. Finally, the Chairman’s remarks concluded by detailing the various social initiatives that the company has undertaken. Those initiatives included free mobile data packages for frontline workers, a 66% increase of DigiNet speed for all users free of cost, increased mobile promotions and a social media education campaign and newly designed MobilePayz solution which enables the government to distribute $19M in COVID-19 relief funds to over 20,000 recipients.

In addition to the student data plan and work-from-home data plan, which both provided 25GB of affordable data to clients, BTL also introduced other promotions in 2020 such as their TopUp Rewards plan, which offered data-only or talk, text and data for top-up purchases; their Digi Airnet plan, which provided affordable monthly plans and data allowances to rural areas, the International TopUp plan, which allows worldwide credit transfers to any BTL prepaid customer, and the CreditMi feature, which allows prepaid customers to get a credit advance from Digi to make calls, send texts or purchase mobile LTE data.

Chairman Lizarraga noted that BTL is now focusing their strategies on return of equity:

“BTL continues to transform and evolve to ensure efficiency, transparency, profitability and longevity. As such, we have shifted our financial reporting model. We now focus on return of equity or ROE, which measures profitability, while ensuring that investors will receive a reasonable return on their investment. With this new focus, we aimed to improve the ROE targeting growth from eight percent and rising to twelve percent over the next five years,” he stated.

It is to be noted that GOB and taxpayers will be receiving forty-nine cents on the dollar for dividends declared.

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