Singapore Press Holdings chalks up 7.5% rise in Q2 net profit to $81.3m

MEDIA and property group Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) said on Friday that second-quarter net profit rose 7.5 per cent as it booked a gain from partially selling its stake in the regional online classified business.

Contributions from the exhibitions, online classified and the radio business also played a part as earnings for the three months ended Feb 28 hit $81.3 million, up from $75.6 million a year earlier.

However, group operating revenue fell 1.2 per cent to $278.8 million.

Turnover from the newspaper and magazine business fell 5.7 per cent to $211.6 million as advertisement and circulation revenue both fell. But SPH said this business is on track to deliver cost initiatives which would generate annual savings of $19 million when implemented.

This helped the company to contain its operating costs in the quarter.

Revenue for the property segment rose 3 per cent to $51.7 million. The retail assets of SPH Reit, Paragon and The Clementi Mall, turned in a better performance on the back of higher rental income and full occupancy rates.

Revenue from the group's other businesses doubled to $15.4 million, boosted by contributions from the exhibitions, online classified and the radio business.

The segment also benefited from a gain of $52.9 million as SPH partly sold its stake in the regional online classified business.

"Having completed our organisational review, the group is now embarking on its transformation from a position of strength," said SPH chief executive Alan Chan in a statement.

"With a leaner and more agile organisational structure in place, the group is well placed to respond to the rapid changes in the media industry and structural shifts in consumer behaviour, and to pursue growth opportunities."

Net profit for the six months to Feb 28 dipped 0.4 per cent to $170.1 million although operating revenue rose 0.5 per cent to $607.2 million.

Earnings per share were 11 cents for the half-year, unchanged from a year ago. Net asset value per share was $2.17 at Feb 28, down from $2.19 at Aug 31 last year.

SPH declared an interim dividend of seven cents per share, unchanged from a year earlier.

The company's shares closed flat at $4.22.