UPDATE: SPH reports fiscal 2Q net profit fell nearly 26 percent on lower print ad revenue

Straits Times reading sculpture at Changi AirportStraits Times reading sculpture at Changi Airport

This article was originally published on Tuesday, 9 April 2019 at 19:19 SGT; it has since been updated.

Singapore Press Holdings, or SPH, reported on Tuesday its fiscal second quarter net profit dropped 25.7 percent on-year to S$29.69 million on lower print ad and circulation revenue.

Revenue for the quarter ended 28 February dropped 5.2 percent on-year to S$227.82 million, the publisher of the “Straits Times” said in a filing to SGX after the market close on Tuesday.

In addition, investment income for the quarter fell by S$10 million on-year to a loss of S$700,000 due to a year-earlier S$5.4 million gain on disposal of investments, SPH said. It also posted foreign-exchange losses of S$1.1 million in the quarter, compared with a year-earlier gain of S$2.1 million.

Print advertising revenue fell 16 percent on-year in the quarter to S$14.1 million, while circulation revenue declined 8.8 percent on-year to S$3.2 million, the filing said.

However, that was partly offset by rental revenue of S$6.2 million from the U.K. student accommodation portfolio and S$3.2 million from the Figtree Grove Shopping Centre in Australia, it added.

“We continue to make progress with our digital transformation strategy. Although the media business continues to experience headwinds, revenue from the digital side of the business is showing growth,” Ng Yat Chung, CEO of SPH, said in the statement. “We also see improved recurring income from the property segment which has expanded its portfolio following recent acquisitions.”

Staff costs fall

Staff costs fell 12.9 percent on-year to S$79.9 million in the quarter, on lower headcount and bonus provisions, SPH said.

Finance costs increased 35.5 percent on-year to S$12.3 million, mainly due to loan facilities to fund the acquisition of the U.K. student accommodation portfolio and the Figtree property, SPH said.

SPH declared an interim dividend of 5.5 Singapore cents a share, to be paid on 24 May, down from 6 Singapore cents in the year-ago period.

For the fiscal first half, SPH reported net profit fell 14.7 percent on-year to S$85.6 million on a lack of investment gains in the treasury and investment portfolio, which was largely divested in August 2018. Operating revenue for the six-month period slipped 3.0 percent on-year to S$477.6 million, it said.

The media business posted a 10.1 percent on-year drop in first-half revenue to S$296.2 million, partly on a shorter festive advertising window between Christmas and the Lunar New Year holidays, SPH said, adding the segment’s profit fell 3.8 percent on-year to S$42.1 million.

But it added, the digital side of the media business showed encouraging growth, with newspaper digital ad revenue up 15.1 percent on-year for the first half.

Property segment revenue for the first half rose 15.3 percent on-year to S$140.3 million on acquisitions by SPH REIT and the U.K. student accommodation portfolio, SPH said. Profit for the segment was S$79.78 million, up 2.3 percent on-year, it said, adding that was two-thirds of the group’s profit.



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