Spark launches $350 million share buy-back after strong results

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Spark launches $350 million share buy-back after strong results
Justine Smyth, Spark

Holders of Spark shares can look forward to higher dividends, and the telco returning up to $350 million to them through an on-market buy back, after strong financial performance for the 2022 full accounting year.

The telco saw a revenue increase of 3.5 per cent to $3720 miilion, and a 2.8 per cent rise in earnings before tax to $1150 million, with net profit being $410 million.

This despite what Spark chair Justine Smyth said was a year marked by ongoing COVID-19 disruption and increasing economic volatility.

Spark's sale of the 70 per cent stake of its TowerCo business to the Ontario Teachers' Pension Fund for $900 million in cash will see up to $350 million spent on share buy backs, and unspecified alternative return options depending on market conditions, Smyth added.

Mobile service earnings grew by five per cent in the FY22 for Spark, and IoT and Health revenue jumped by 22 and 46 per cent respectively, on the back of national contact wins.

COVID-19 lockdowns, transformation project delays, supply chain disruptions and execution challenges took their toll on Spark's cloud, security and service management earnings, which were stagnant at 0.7 per growth, bringing in $446 million.

A redesign of Spark's broadband plans drove a 4.6 per cent revenue decline to $639 million, but a growth in the telco's fixed wireless connections of 16,000 offset this, as they are not subject to wholesale input costs.

“With one year to run in our three-year strategy, we are on track to deliver our FY23 ambitions. We are a simpler and more digital organisation, with 102 legacy mobile and broadband plans retired and digital journeys increasing by 23 per cent," Spark chief executive Jolie Hodson said, commenting on the current results.

Hodson added that Spark has established an emissions reduction and energy efficiency programme "to drive action against our science-based target".

The telco also recorded a third increase in subscriptions for its not-for-profit Skinny Jump broadband service, which now has 23,323 households signed up.

Spark intends to invest a further $350 million from the TowerCo sale on digital infrastructure, scaling its IoT and Health businesses, and fund its MATTR subsidiary to develop emerging identity and verifiable data technology.


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© CRN New Zealand

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