APT Defies Expectations with Continued Growth

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PARIS — Satellite fleet operator APT Satellite Holdings of Hong Kong, coming off a strong 2009, said the first half of 2010 has witnessed continued growth in demand for satellite bandwidth in a region often viewed as saturated with capacity.

The company, which sells C- and Kuband capacity on three satellites, reported that revenue grew by 58 percent, to 363.2 million Hong Kong dollars ($46.7 million), for the six months ending June 30 compared with the same period the previous year. Operating profit surged 97 percent, to 137.1 million Hong Kong dollars.

The company’s sales figure for the first six months was inflated by revenue from the Apstar 2R satellite, which APT purchased from Telesat of Canada in July 2009 in a cash transaction valued at $69 million. Apstar 2R carries 28 Cband and 16 Ku-band transponders and was 82 percent full as of June 30, APT said, up from 81 percent at the end of 2009.

Apstar 2R, launched in October 1997 and operating at 76.5 degrees east, is scheduled to be replaced in early 2012 by the Apstar 7 satellite now under construction by Thales Alenia Space of France and Italy. APT also has ordered an Apstar 7A satellite to be launched into the Apstar 2R slot in the event that Apstar 7 is lost in a launch failure. If the Apstar 7 launch, aboard a Chinese Long March 3B rocket, is successful, Apstar 7A will be transferred to China Satcom of Beijing.

APT said the business climate in East Asia continues to improve. “Demand for transponder services in both [the] broadcasting and telecommunications sectors has grown steadily in the first half of 2010,” the company said in an Aug. 24 filing with the Hong Kong Stock Exchange.

Apstar 5, launched in June 2004, on which APT markets 20 C- and nine Kuband transponders, was 78 percent full as of June 30. Apstar 6, launched in April 2005 with 38 C- and 12 Ku-band transponders, was 76 percent full, the company said.

The only sour note in the financial picture was the company’s division that sells telecommunications services, mainly for corporate VSAT, or very small aperture terminal, networks, which remains small relative to the core transponderlease business. That division reported a 24 percent decline in revenue, to 7.2 million Hong Kong dollars, compared with the first half of 2009.