SINGAPORE - Media and property group Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) reported a 44 per cent drop in third-quarter net profit to $26.2 million from $46.9 million a year earlier amid challenging times for the media division.
The lower earnings were also due to higher operating expenses, which rose 5.5 per cent to $220 million on the back of increased operational costs given the enlarged student accommodation portfolio and SPH Reit.
There were also higher financing costs and professional fees, said SPH on Friday (July 12).
Investment income fell 82 per cent to $4 million as the treasury and investment portfolio was largely divested by the end of the previous financial year.
Operating revenue for the three months to May 31 was 1.6 per cent down at $246.1 million on the back of a 6.7 per cent decline in print advertising and a 7.3 per cent fall in circulation revenue.
There was also the absence of contributions from Shareinvestor.com holdings following a divestment last November.
The decline in operating revenue was cushioned by rental revenue of $14.3 million from the purpose-built student accommodation portfolio and $4.2 million from SPH Reit's retail asset, Figtree Grove shopping centre in Australia.
"The media business continues to be challenged on various fronts, including the ongoing trade tensions and the slowing of the Singapore economy, but we remain focused on our digital transformation strategy," said SPH chief executive Ng Yat Chung.
"We see improved recurring income from the property segment, which has expanded its portfolio following recent acquisitions."
Earnings per share for the quarter stood at two cents versus three cents a year earlier. No dividend was declared for the period.
Net profit for the nine months fell 24 per cent to $111.8 million on the back of a 2.5 per cent fall in operating revenue to $723.7 million.
While revenue for the media business fell over the nine months by 11.6 per cent to $439.7 million and profit from this segment declined 32 per cent to $52 million, the digital side of the media business continued to enjoy an upswing.
Newspaper digital ad revenue rose 11 per cent while daily average newspaper digital sales improved by nearly 13 per cent.
SPH shares closed unchanged at $2.49 on Friday before the results were released.