Singapore Press Holdings posts 21.9% drop in Q1 net profit

SINGAPORE - Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) said on Tuesday that its first-quarter net profit dropped 21.9 per cent from the same period a year ago to $69.4 million as its media business took a hit from the uncertain economic environment, which has dampened advertising demand.

Group recurring earnings of $102.3 million declined by 12.4 per cent year on year, due to reduced earnings from the newspaper and magazine business, which was weighed down by a tepid and uncertain economic environment and general softening of the advertising market.

Group operating revenue fell 6.5 per cent from a year ago to $307.1 million, as the newspaper and magazine business continued to soften.

Advertisement revenue slipped 8 per cent while circulation revenue was down by 6.8 per cent.

The property segment, however, maintained a steady performance as revenue edged up 1.2 per cent to $51.4 million on the back of higher rental income from Paragon and The Clementi Mall.

Revenue from SPH's other businesses slipped 8.4 per cent, as the exhibitions business was affected by the absence of revenue from certain shows due to changes in show dates. This was partially negated by better performance from the local online classified and radio business.

SPH chief executive Alan Chan noted that the global economic outlook remains fraught with lingering concerns over rising interest rates, deflationary pressures, geopolitical tensions and a global pandemic outbreak, among other risks.

"Against this backdrop and a tight labour market in Singapore, the domestic economy is expected to post modest growth."

However, he added that the company has continued to venture into new iniatitives in the digital sphere.

During the quarter, SPH acquired a 60 per cent stake in CoSine Holdings, which offers real-time information and other services for efficiently transacting real estate in Singapore.

"The newly acquired business will also complement the offerings of our digital classified portfolio," Mr Chan said.

"On a separate note, our regional online classified business, 701Search, inked an agreement with Naspers Limited to establish joint ventures for the development of online classified platforms in several regional countries."