SPH reports 17.5% drop in full-year net profit

From left: Mr Patrick Daniel, deputy CEO, Mr Alan Chan, CEO, and Mr Anthony Tan, deputy CEO, of Singapore Press Holdings at the meeting announcing the group's full-year results at the SPH News Centre yesterday.
From left: Mr Patrick Daniel, deputy CEO, Mr Alan Chan, CEO, and Mr Anthony Tan, deputy CEO, of Singapore Press Holdings at the meeting announcing the group's full-year results at the SPH News Centre yesterday.ST PHOTO: SEAH KWANG PENG

Other businesses and property revenues show resilience even as media business takes a hit

Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) said it is making good progress on a comprehensive review of its core media business, as it announced a 17.5 per cent drop in full-year net profit yesterday.

Its bottom line fell to $265.3 million for the year ended Aug 31, dragged down partly by an impairment charge of $28.4 million, primarily relating to the magazine business, which has been hurt by the slumping luxury and retail sectors.

A similar impairment charge of $9.1 million was made last year. Excluding these charges, net profit for this year would have fallen by a lower 11.2 per cent.

Recurring earnings dropped 13.7 per cent to $305.2 million, while operating revenue dipped 4.5 per cent to $1.12 billion.

Much of this was due to the media business, where overall revenue slid 7.6 per cent from a year ago.

This stemmed from a 9.2 per cent fall in advertising revenue and a 3 per cent dip in circulation revenue.

However, SPH noted it has been undertaking a comprehensive review of the media business.

  • AT A GLANCE

  • NET PROFIT

    $265.3 million (-17.5%)

  • OPERATING REVENUE

    $1.12 billion (-4.5%)

  • TOTAL DIVIDEND

    18 cents per share (-10%)

"We have engaged a management consultant to work with us. I think we have made very good progress, but it's still ongoing and when we are ready, we will make the necessary announcements," chief executive Alan Chan said at a briefing.

"Some of the matters that needed immediate attention, for example, the reorganisation of the marketing division, we have done and announced."

There were media reports earlier this week saying SPH plans to merge The New Paper and My Paper and cut 5 per cent to 10 per cent of its workforce, mostly part-time workers.

ADAPTING TO DIFFICULT TIMES

Looking ahead, market conditions are expected to remain difficult in view of the uncertain economic outlook and the continuing disruption of the media industry... We will continue to focus on our drive to transform and sustain the media business while pursuing growth opportunities.

CHIEF EXECUTIVE ALAN CHAN, commenting on the outlook for the group.

When asked about these reports, Mr Chan said that as a listed company in a regulated industry, "certain items need regulatory approval" and that he could not comment until SPH had undergone that process.

Still, there are bright spots in the media business. Digital circulation of SPH publications rose 70 per cent in the year as the firm revamped the digital news apps for its core publications, such as The Straits Times and Lianhe Zaobao.

Deputy CEO Anthony Tan noted that the reorganisation of the marketing division has been gaining traction among advertisers.

SPH's property segment stayed resilient, with revenue rising 4.6 per cent for the full year, as its malls drew in higher rental and services income.

Revenue from SPH's other businesses grew 11.4 per cent, lifted by higher income from the exhibitions and online classifieds businesses.

Earnings per share fell to 16 cents at the end of August, from 20 cents a year earlier. Net asset value per share fell to $2.18 at the end of August, from $2.24 a year ago.

SPH directors have proposed a final dividend of 11 cents a share. Together with the interim dividend of seven cents, the total dividend payout for the full year will be 18 cents a share.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 15, 2016, with the headline 'SPH reports 17.5% drop in full-year net profit'. Print Edition | Subscribe