While Chorus saw a year-on-year fall in earnings and revenue for the half year to December 31, the company is tracking close to the top of its guidance for the 2018 financial year.

Net profit for the period was $47 million. That is down 29 percent from the previous year’s $66 million. Chorus also had higher depreciation and amortisation costs. Ebitda fell 9.7 percent to $329 million in the half compared to $335 million a year ago. Operating revenue was $499 million. 

Chorus says annual earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation will still be near the top of the $625–650 million guidance range. The company’s shares rose 1.1 percent after the announcement. 

Customer connections fell 7.1 percent to 1.56 million. This was in line with expectations; with 5,000 copper connections in non-Chorus fibre areas transferring to other UFB wholesalers. Chief executive Kate McKenzie said the company has slowed the loss of customers. 

She says: “During the half year we continued our campaign to promote better broadband and this, coupled with an expanded field force, helped drive a strong increase in fibre and VDSL uptake while also slowing connection losses to other networks significantly."

McKenzie says improving customer experience will help stem the loss of connections. “In that context, I was pleased to see average lead times for fibre reduce from 22 days to 14 days during the half year, despite record order volumes. Further, despite the pressures in the New Zealand construction industry, we’ve kept our fibre rollout costs within plan and we’re maintaining a tight focus on other costs. We will also continue to be an active wholesaler, aiming to stimulate competition amongst retailers in the market."