The absence of a one-off gain dented Singapore Press Holdings' (SPH's) second-quarter net profit, which was also affected by challenging conditions for its media business.
The media and property firm said yesterday that net profit for the three months ended Feb 29 fell 22.3 per cent to $54.1 million from the same period a year earlier.
Last year, SPH's second-quarter bottom line had been boosted by profits from the sale of investments, undertaken to fund the redemption of its medium-term note.
Operating profit for the quarter, which represents the company's recurring earnings, inched up 0.2 per cent to $68.1 million.
Investment income fell 62.4 per cent to $7.2 million.
Operating revenue slipped 4.1 per cent from the same period a year earlier to $259.3 million, owing mainly to a weaker performance in its media business.
AT A GLANCE
NET PROFIT: $54.1 million (-22.3%)
REVENUE: $259.3 million (-4.1%)
DIVIDEND: 7 cents a share (unchanged)
That segment turned in revenue of $190.7 million for the quarter, down 6 per cent from the year before. This was due mainly to a $9.5 million or 6.5 per cent dip in advertisement revenue.
SPH's property division fared better despite the softer retail scene, chalking up revenue of $61.2 million, an increase of 0.9 per cent from the same period a year earlier, thanks to higher rental and services revenue from its retail assets.
Revenue from SPH's other businesses rose 9.5 per cent year on year, boosted by higher contribution from the exhibitions business.
The share of losses of associates and joint ventures was $712,000, compared with a gain of $4.8 million in the second quarter a year earlier, which was bolstered by a $7.4 million gain relating to a restructuring of SPH's regional online classifieds business.
SPH said it remained vigilant over its expenditures amid the challenging operating environment.
"For the quarter, the consistent focus on cost discipline and operating efficiency continued to bear fruit, with total operating expenditure brought down by $11.3 million or 5.4 per cent year-on-year to $196.1 million," SPH said in a statement yesterday.
Chief executive officer Alan Chan noted that the second quarter was marked by "a very difficult operating environment".
"Despite this, the group continued to turn in a respectable performance," he said.
The road ahead is expected to remain challenging, given the uncertain economic outlook and fast-evolving media landscape, he added.
"Amid the challenging times, the group will continue its efforts to transform the media business and pursue growth opportunities."
For the half-year ended Feb 29, group recurring earnings slipped 1.9 per cent from a year earlier to $167.1 million.
Net profit for the six months dipped 2.5 per cent to $135.5 million. Earnings per share for the quarter was three cents, down from four cents previously, while net asset value per share was $2.16 as at Feb 29, down from $2.24 as at Aug 31.
The directors have declared an interim dividend of seven cents a share, which will be paid on May 24.