4G pricing is an ultimate cure

  • M1 & StarHub to price 4G services significantly higher than 3G. Players with bigger exposure to the mobile sector will benefit more
  • Even if we ignore the impact of lower data-caps StarHub’s FY13F/14F earnings could benefit 4%/8%, marginal impact for SingTel.
  • Raise StarHub’s TP to S$3.67 assuming DPS of 22 Scts in FY13F, implying 6% yield. HOLD SingTel for 5% yield, intense competition in India, Australia and startup cost for mobile advertising as key concerns

4G pricing to correct 3G’s too generous data pricing in Singapore. In June, SingTel lowered the data-caps to 2GB from 12GB. During the 3G era, c.22% of M1’s users exceeded the 2GB limit without paying an extra cent. With higher 4G speeds (five times higher than 3G), more users are likely to exceed the 2GB data-cap to end up paying S$5.35 per extra GB. In addition, SingTel will charge S$10.70 per GB for exceeding the data-cap from Jan 2013 onwards. M1 took it one step further in September and announced that it will charge an additional S$10.70 in subscription fees for 4G versus its 3G ARPU of S$53. StarHub has also put in place higher 4G pricing of an additional S$10.70 for 4G plans from March 31, 2013 onwards when its 4G coverage will be significantly higher. StarHub will charge slightly higher S$6.42 per GB for exceeding the datacap. An additional S$10 per month works out to be 19% of M1’s, 14% of StarHub’s and 12% of SingTel’s reported postpaid ARPUs.

4G penetration of 8% in 2013F, 20% in 2014F. These projections are based on experience in countries like the US where 4G penetration reached around 9% after 18 months of launch, while in Korea, penetration hit 17% after 13 months of launch. 4G network coverage and handset availability are the two most important factors. However, 4G is not priced at a premium in the above countries, hence 4G adoption could be slightly slower in Singapore despite the widespread 4G network.

Robust longer-term outlook for the sector. We raise StarHub FY13F DPS to 22 Scts versus our expectations of 21 Scts earlier on better longer-term outlook and a very low FY12F net debt to EBITDA ratio of only 0.5x. In our DDM model, we assume 8% cost of equity, 2% long-term growth rate and 22 Scts DPS. However, upside for StarHub is limited as 22 Scts DPS is already reflected in the share price.

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