AsiaSat Posts Strong Sales and Earnings

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FISH CAMP, Calif. — Satellite fleet operator AsiaSat of Hong Kong on Aug. 19 reported a 27 percent increase in revenue for the six months ending June 30, saying it continues to book new customers at favorable rates — profit was up 21 percent — despite the continued satellite overcapacity in East Asia.

AsiaSat said its Speedcast subsidiary, which provides satellite links to two-way terminals for corporate communications, increased its revenue by 34 percent during the period and now accounts for about 13 percent of AsiaSat’s revenue.

Peter Jackson, who stepped down from his post as chief executive Aug. 1 and will remain AsiaSat’s executive chairman until July 2011, said the company is encouraged by early results from its joint venture with EchoStar of Englewood, Colo., to provide 36 enhanced standard-definition and high-definition television channels in Taiwan. The venture, called Dish-HD, began operations in June and reported a loss for the first half of 2010.

AsiaSat operates four in-orbit satellites and has one, AsiaSat 7, on order and scheduled for launch in late 2011. AsiaSat did not break down fill rates by satellite but said its overall fleet utilization remained steady at 65 percent for the first half of the year.

The company as a whole reported revenue of 689.8 million Hong Kong dollars, or $88.6 million at June 30 exchange rates, for the first six months of 2010, a 27 percent increase over the same period a year ago.

The four operating satellites include AsiaSat 2, which was replaced by AsiaSat 5 in late 2009. In early 2010, the satellite was leased by Spacecom of Israel, renamed Amos-5i and moved to Spacecom’s 17 degrees east orbital slot to serve customers in Africa until Spacecom’s Amos-5 is launched in 2011.

In an Aug. 19 statement on the company’s results, Jackson said AsiaSat booked 760 million Hong Kong dollars in new orders in the first half of 2010, a sharp increase over bookings a year earlier that he said came mainly from new customers, not renewals of existing contracts.

“The recent global economic downturn had relatively low impact on our industry and on AsiaSat in particular,” Jackson said. He acknowledged that “[t]here is still more capacity in the market than demand” in AsiaSat’s region. He also said AsiaSat’s growth continues to be slowed by protectionist regulations in some nations, but that these barriers are likely to fall as demand for satellite communications grows.