SPH full-year profit falls 19.7%, but up 2.4% excluding one-offs

Singapore Press Holdings' revenue from other businesses rose 34 per cent to $84.4 million, led by contributions from the aged care division. SPH owns private nursing home operator Orange Valley.
Singapore Press Holdings' revenue from other businesses rose 34 per cent to $84.4 million, led by contributions from the aged care division. SPH owns private nursing home operator Orange Valley.ST PHOTO: LIM YAOHUI

Fall partly due to absence of one-off gain from divestment of joint venture

Media and property group Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) reported a 19.7 per cent fall in net profit for the year due partly to the absence of a one-off gain from the divestment of a joint venture recorded in the previous financial year.

Net profit fell $69 million to $281.1 million for the 12 months to Aug 31, it reported yesterday. If one-offs were excluded, net profit improved 2.4 per cent.

Earnings per share was 17 cents, compared with 22 cents a year earlier, while net asset value per share was $2.15 as at Aug 31, down a tad from $2.16 last year.

A final dividend of seven cents per share has been proposed - a normal dividend of three cents a share and a special dividend of four cents a share. Together with an interim dividend of six cents, the total dividend payout for the year is 13 cents.

This compares with a final dividend of nine cents a share in 2017, part of a total dividend payout of 15 cents a share for the 2017 financial year.

The group, which owns newspapers such as The Straits Times, said it will continue investing in digital initiatives for its media business, as well as growing its aged care operations locally and overseas in the medium term.

ENCOURAGING RESULTS

Print continues to experience headwinds, but we are seeing encouraging results from our efforts to digitise the core media business. We are making good progress in growing our property, digital portfolio and aged care businesses, including our recently acquired assets in the purpose-built student accommodation sector.

SINGAPORE PRESS HOLDINGS CHIEF EXECUTIVE OFFICER NG YAT CHUNG

Group operating profit held firm at $206.3 million, despite declines in operating revenue, cushioned by cost savings. Full-year operating revenue was down $50 million or 4.8 per cent to $982.6 million.

Higher investment income of $115.2 million boosted performance across all reporting segments by 24 per cent, to $321.5 million.

The group's core media business remains profitable, with its decline in revenue moderating. Media revenue fell $69.6 million or 9.6 per cent in 2018.

Turnover in the property segment fell a marginal 0.7 per cent or $1.7 million to $242.4 million, but remains the largest contributor to group earnings, with an operating profit of $151.8 million.

Revenue from other businesses rose 34 per cent or $21.4 million to $84.4 million, led by contributions from the aged care division.

Chief executive officer Ng Yat Chung said: "Print continues to experience headwinds, but we are seeing encouraging results from our efforts to digitise the core media business.

"We are making good progress in growing our property, digital portfolio and aged care businesses, including our recently acquired assets in the purpose-built student accommodation sector."

Last month, SPH made its first investment in purpose-built student accommodation, with a $321 million acquisition in Britain.

It said yesterday that it will build upon this "to develop a sizeable platform with strong domain expertise and on-ground capabilities".

SPH closed down 0.38 per cent to $2.62 yesterday before the results were released.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on October 16, 2018, with the headline 'SPH full-year profit falls 19.7%, but up 2.4% excluding one-offs'. Print Edition | Subscribe