KT's net profit up 5.6 percent in 2020
KT's consolidated 2020 net profit climbed 5.6 percent on year to 703.4 billion won ($623.1 million), the telecommunications company announced Tuesday.
Annual revenue was down 1.7 percent to 23.9 trillion won, while operating profit was up 2.1 percent to 1.2 trillion won.
In terms of quarterly performance, the company reported stronger on-year growth between September and December 2020: Net profit moved into the black to 39.1 billion won. Quarterly revenue rose 0.2 percent to 6.2 trillion, while operating profit rose 6.4 percent to 166.8 billion won.
The telecommunications company saw its business-to-business (B2B) services grow significantly in 2020, increasing 2 percent on year to 2.8 trillion won.
Among all of KT’s businesses, the “AI/DX division,” which stands for artificial intelligence and digital transformation, saw the highest on-year growth of 11.8 percent. The segment includes offering AI solutions like automatic AI voice responders, data center storage and cloud services for corporate clients.
The division’s performance is significant for KT, which has been pushing efforts to transform into a provider of “digital platforms” for corporate clients from its old business model solely as a telecommunications operator.
“We plan to take the B2B segment full-scale this year,” said Kim Young-jin, KT’s chief financial officer, during a Tuesday conference call. “AI chatbots will be incorporated into our existing services, like phone calls and messages. We’ll categorize clients in detail so that our services will be refined to meet their specific needs.”
Kim also hinted that mergers and acquisitions will be considered to enforce KT’s B2B side. He projected a 4-percent revenue growth this year to reach above 25 trillion won.
The wireless communications business — KT’s cash cow comprised of revenue from selling network plans — saw revenue increase 1.3 percent on year to 6.9 trillion won. The revenue growth itself was not drastic, but what is notable is that the increase of 5G subscribers, with data plans that tend to be more expensive, was what drove the on-year growth.
As of late 2020, KT had 3.62 million 5G subscribers, which account for 25 percent of all customers. According to Kim, this year’s goal is to push the figure to 45 percent.
KT's consolidated 2020 figures were hit slightly by losses at subsidiaries badly affected by the coronavirus pandemic. BC Card, KT’s biggest subsidiary, saw revenue fall 4.2 percent to 3.4 trillion won last year, as the number of tourists fell and consumption retreated. KT Estate, a real estate company, was hit with a bigger blow, seeing annual revenue stumble 24.9 percent on year.
BY SONG KYOUNG-SON [firstname.lastname@example.org]