ASIASAT STILL SUFFERING
The stock price of Hong Kong-based AsiaSat has fallen again dramatically despite the company (which is 50 per cent owned by SES/Astra) reporting improved sales and profits. “We report the best six months we’ve ever had, and the stock still goes down,” said Peter E Jackson, chief executive of AsiaSat. “There’s something wrong there.” AsiaSat opened up for business in 1988 and was quickly adopted as home for Rupert Murdoch’s Star TV bouquet of channels. Then came this year’s tumble in tech stocks that started in April. AsiaSat, the biggest of the three public Asian satellite companies locally, has fallen from HK$35.10 (E5.24) in March to HK$21.20 on Monday last week, even as profits were reportedly rising by three quarters in the first six months of this year. Hong Kong’s APT Satellite Holdings fell from HK$8.45 in February to HK$4.15 last week. Though sales at APT dropped during the first half, profits rose by a quarter. And Thailand’s Shinawatra Satellite Public, better known as Thaicom, fell from a high of 45 baht ($1.04) in April to 30.75 baht last week, even though Thaicom’s profits more than doubled in the first six half of this year. Local reports cite anxiety over future business prospects as one reason for the nervousness. Satellite operators are only now beginning to recover from the Asian economic downturn of 1997-1998. It caused a major shake out of local broadcasters who suffered badly in the region.