Increased contributions from non- media revenue and cost savings helped lift third-quarter earnings at Singapore Press Holdings (SPH).
Net profit for the three months to May 31 was $98.2 million, up 9.6 per cent on the same period a year earlier, while revenue dipped 0.9 per cent to $306.8 million.
Recurring earnings of $105.2 million was $6.8 million or 6.9 per cent higher than the same period last year.
SPH's property unit turned in another stellar performance, with revenue up 16.5 per cent year-on-year to $59.4 million, mainly on the back of contributions from The Seletar Mall, which opened last November. Rental income from Paragon and The Clementi Mall also rose.
The group's other businesses - online classifieds, events and exhibitions - also improved performance, as new shows and timing differences in show dates pushed revenue up 21.6 per cent year- on-year to $14.3 million.
AT A GLANCE
REVENUE: $306.8 million (-0.9%)
NET PROFIT: $98.2 million (+9.6%)
EARNINGS PER SHARE: Six cents (unchanged)
Stronger non-media contributions helped offset the 5.6 per cent year-on-year decline in media revenue to $233.1 million.
The media business continued to experience headwinds, with a 7.7 per cent fall in advertising revenue amid economic uncertainty.
Cost savings played a part in the better numbers. Total operating expenditure in the third quarter was down 2.4 per cent to $209.3 million, due mainly to savings on newsprint costs and bonus provisions.
For the nine months ended May 31, recurring earnings of $275.5 million was $6.8 million or 2.5 per cent better than the corresponding period last year.
A $26.1 million or 2.8 per cent decline in total revenue was more than offset by the $32.9 million or 5 per cent fall in total operating expenditure. Meanwhile, investment income soared by $20.8 million to $44.9 million.
However, net profit of $237.2 million in the nine-month period was 8.7 per cent lower, given the absence of prior year's $52.9 million gain on partial sale of an entity.
Earnings per share for the third quarter were unchanged at six cents from the same quarter last year while net asset value stood at $2.21 a share, down 3.1 per cent from $2.28 as at Aug 31 last year.
"The global economic outlook is expected to improve marginally in 2015, with growth likely to remain tepid and fraught with uncertainties... In Singapore, the tight labour market continues to weigh on the domestic economy," said chief executive Alan Chan.
"Overall, economic growth is expected to be modest, with the official growth forecast at between 2 and 4 per cent for 2015."
He noted that while the group achieved improved performance for the quarter, the road ahead remains challenging, given the muted economic outlook, a sluggish advertising market and a media industry facing structural challenges.
"Amid the difficult operating environment, the group will continue to focus on sustaining and strengthening our media business. In addition, we will evaluate and pursue new opportunities for growth."