SES trims 2009 guidance
Chris Forrester

Satellite operator SES downgraded full-year revenue increase expectations on Oct 23, to “around” 1.5% for the year.

Third-quarter overall results, unveiled on Oct 23, were below expectations. Earlier guidance supplied was to expect growth for the year of 3-4%. SES also said that revenues had been affected by the slow arrival of certain major service contracts at ND-SatCom, as well as the continued weakness of the US dollar. However, SES remained buoyant for revenue growth during the 2010-2012 period, and issued guidance to expect recurring revenue growth of some 5% for the next couple of years.

“There’s lots of good news,” said SES president and CEO Romain Bausch, during an analysts’ call, “but also a little bad news.” SES’ service business saw a fall back of some 3.6% which dragged the overall picture down. CFO Mark Rigolle said that the 5% target guidance for the 2010-2012 period would sometimes be a little above and sometimes a little below.

Revenues, for the 9 months to date, are €1.259bn (up 5.4%), while operating profits were €537.5m (up 7.5%).

“There’s a long list of good news,” added Bausch, telling analysts about the increased transponder usage rate (up from 82% to 80.2%), helped by the leasing of 20 additional transponders during the quarter. He said that NSS-12 was on schedule for launch on Oct 29, and there were a further 8 satellites in various states of build for launch by 2011.

NSS-12 would, once it enters service at 57 deg East, add 30 transponders to the orbital slot and Bausch said he expected it to be fully contracted by the end of next year. Europe’s next craft, Astra 3B, would also see additional transponders added, 3 over Europe and 12 for the Middle East, four of which had already been contracted.

Bausch said the German analogue broadcasting system was expected to be switched off “in April 2012 at the earliest” but could extend beyond that date.

In total SES would be adding 204 new transponders to the fleet, a 19% increase in commercially available capacity (currently 1102 working transponders), thus supporting future growth.

Bausch said that next year’s (April) dividend payment to shareholders would be in the range of 72-73 Euro-cents per share (this year’s payment was 66 E-cents).