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SES expects HD Plus growth, 2011 results hit by decline in dollar

SES expects to reach one million paying customers for its HD Plus platform in Germany by the end of this year, according to the satellite operator’s CEO, Romain Bausch.

Speaking on a conference call on the company’s full-year results, Bausch said that there were currently 2.5 million HD Plus reception cards in the market and 2.3 million active HD Plus homes, of which 1.9 million were still in their free-to-view phase and 400,000 had paid the €50 annual technical service charge. “We think we will have over one million paying customers by the end of this year,” he said. HD Plus currently offers 12 Germany free-to-air channels in HD.

The switching off of analogue satellite transmission in the German market this year is having a negative impact on the company’s revenues, and Bausch said that SES’s real growth rate was hidden because of this. The company is expecting top line growth of 2% this year and a compound annual growth rate of 4.5% between 2012-14, but without the impact of analogue switch-off, Bausch said the company would see 9% growth this year and 7.5% CAGR for 2012-14.

Bausch said that SES’s focus on emerging markets under its new unified structure was paying dividends. Soft demand in the North American market had allowed it to redeploy its AMC-3 and SES-3 satellites in the high-growth markets of Latin America and Asia respectively. The lack of a need to replace satellites in North America would also mean reduced capex going forwards, he said.

The company posted revenues of €0.1% for the full year, down 0.1%, attributed to the decline in the value of the US dollar, while recurring revenue grew by 2.8%. EBITDA was €1.275 billion, down 1.7%, in part due to a one-time reorganization charge of €14.8 million, while recurring revenue was 1.295 billion, up 3.1%. Profit was €6.7.7 million, up 26.8%.

SES now has a contract backlog of €7 billion, with €2 billion of renewals and new business signed during the year. The company was hit in 2011 by a series of launch delays, limiting its ability to meet demand on schedule.