AsiaSat Tempers Expectations in Tough Economy

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PARIS — Satellite fleet operator AsiaSat of Hong Kong on Aug. 26 reported increased revenue and profit for the first six months of 2009 compared to the previous year but warned that full-year results likely will be flat relative to 2008 as video broadcasters slow their expansion in the face of a struggling regional economy.

As of June 30, AsiaSat’s three operating satellites were 64 percent booked, up from 60 percent a year earlier. The biggest increase was on the AsiaSat 4 spacecraft at 122 degrees east longitude, which was 66 percent full as of June 30 compared to 58 percent a year earlier.

In an Aug. 26 statement to investors, AsiaSat Chairman Sherwood P. Dodge said the company remains well-positioned to take advantage of a rebound in the Asian economy but expects little or no growth for 2009 compared to 2008.

“While we have experienced a slight increase in renewals and new customers in the first half-year, we are also seeing many of our major customers slowing their expansion plans as the global economic downturn’s effect on advertising emerges in our industry,” Dodge said. “This is also taking place within the context of continued excess transponder capacity in the region.”

AsiaSat’s new AsiaSat 5 satellite, launched Aug. 12, is healthy in orbit and is scheduled to be placed into commercial service at 100.5 degrees east in late September, the company said. An AsiaSat 5C satellite is under construction at Space Systems/Loral of Palo Alto, Calif., and could be deployed to replace AsiaSat 3S, which was launched in 1999 and operates at 105.5 degrees east.

AsiaSat reported revenue of 544.9 million Hong Kong dollars ($70.3 million) for the six months ending June 30, up 12 percent from the same period a year earlier. After 11 million Hong Kong dollars in lease-cancellation fees from Chinese television broadcasters are removed from the total, the increase is 10 percent over the previous year.

Profit after stripping out the one-time payments was 242.4 million Hong Kong dollars, up 9 percent from a year earlier.

Chinese television broadcasters have been consolidating their satellite distribution on spacecraft operated by China DBSat of Beijing.