Singapore Press Holdings posts 14% drop in Q2 earnings

SINGAPORE - Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) reported a 14.4 per cent year-on-year drop in net profit to $69.6 million for the quarter ended Feb 28, as operating revenue declined 3 per cent year-on-year in the same period to $270.29 million.

Recurring earnings was 27.1 per cent higher at $68 million, owing to a 9.1 per cent) decline in total operating expenditure as the corresponding results last year included an impairment charge of $9.9 million and special bonus costs of $10.4 million.

Group operating revenue slipped by 3 per cent to $270.3 million, as performance of the media business was weighed down by the muted economic environment and continued softening of the advertising market.

Revenue from the media business fell by 7.1 per cent, with advertisement and circulation revenues down by 8 per cent and 7.7 per cent respectively.

But the drop in media revenue was partially offset by a 17.2 per cent rise in property revenue to $60.6 million, on the back of a $8.1 million maiden contribution from the Seletar Mall.

Investment income was $19.2 million compared to a loss of $5.5 million in the corresponding quarter last year, and comprised mainly gain from sale of investments.

Last year's results were lifted by a one-off $52.9 million gain on partial divestment of stake in the regional online classifieds business.

Earnings per share for the quarter were four cents, down from five cents previously. Net asset value per share eased marginally to $2.27 compared to $2.28 as at Aug 31.

An unchanged interim cash dividend of seven cents a share was declared, to be paid on May 22.

On SPH's outlook, chief executive Alan Chan noted that the year "ahead is fraught with challenges from an uncertain economic environment, continued softening of the advertising market and the structural issues facing the media industry".

"Amid the challenging times, the group will continue to intensify its efforts to sustain and strengthen the media business, by building upon our core competencies in the print and digital space," Mr Chan said.

Shares of SPH closed flat at $4.19 on Tuesday. The results were announced after market close.