SINGAPORE, 11 April 2005 – Mainboard-listed Singapore Press Holdings Limited (SPH) today reported results for its second quarter ended 28 February 2005. The Group registered a 9.3% rise in net profit to $97.6 million, compared to $89.3 million in the same quarter of the previous financial year.
Group turnover increased 3.0% to $234.9 million, boosted by revenue from the Group´s core Newspaper and Magazine operations which rose 5.6% to $203.3 million, and Property segment which saw revenues increase 7.0% to $22.4 million. This was partially offset by lower revenue from Broadcasting and Multimedia segment which fell 37.3% to $9.2 million as a result of the cessation of broadcasting operations on 1 January 2005.
Profit from Group operations for the quarter increased 12.1% to $89.9 million. Total operating expenses fell 2.5% to $147.0 million, partly attributable to cost savings with the cessation of broadcasting operations. Staff costs were also lower because last year included an adjustment for an underprovision of staff variable bonus provision in the first quarter, partly offset by higher headcount this year following the acquisition of
Blu Inc media and publishing business and expansion of the Group´s existing magazine business. Overall, the Group´s headcount fell to 3,461 at end February 2005 from 3,539 a year ago. Newsprint cost however increased 12.0% as a result of higher prices.
With a shorter period of transmission and together with release of accrued operating costs no longer required upon the cessation of broadcasting operations, SPH MediaWorks Ltd (“MediaWorks”), SPH´s broadcasting arm, turned in an operating profit of $1.7 million this quarter. MediaWorks has since been placed under liquidation on 4 February 2005. Included in this quarter´s results was an exceptional loss of $13.2 million which pertained largely to charges associated with the merger of the Group´s free-to-air
television broadcasting and free newspaper operations.
Group investment income for the quarter almost doubled from a year ago to $45.3 million, attributable largely to higher profits on sale of investments and income arising from capital reduction of an investee company.
For the half-year ended 28 February 2005, the Group registered a net profit of $319.2 million, compared to $173.0 million last year as this year included the $128.5 million gain on sale of a substantial portion of the Group´s stake in Starhub Ltd. Group turnover increased 6.8% to $500.3 million. Commenting on the outlook for the rest of the financial year, Mr Alan Chan, Chief Executive Officer of SPH said: “The outlook for the
Group´s newspaper advertising revenue is expected to be in line with economic growth for the year 2005. There are signs of improving sentiment in several business sectors. Generally, consumer and business sentiments in Singapore will continue to be influenced by global economic factors such as high oil prices. Overall, the Directors expect the operating performance of the Group for the current financial year to be satisfactory.”
The directors of SPH have declared an interim net dividend of 7 cents per share (or gross dividend of 8.75 cents per share), comprising 3 cents normal and 4 cents special which will be paid on 10 May 2005.
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Singapore Press Holdings
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Main board listed Singapore Press Holdings Limited is the leading media company in Singapore, in the print, Internet and broadcasting platforms. It publishes 13 newspapers in the four official languages and more than 70 magazine titles. Everyday, 2.78 million individuals, or 90 per cent of people above 15 years old, read one of the SPH publications. Its Internet Business Unit manages the online editions of SPH’s major newspapers and magazines, which together enjoy over 250 million pageviews a month. SPH also owns a 20% stake in MediaCorp TV Holdings Pte Ltd, which operates free-to-air channels 5, 8, U and TV Mobile, and a 40% stake in MediaCorp Press Pte Ltd, which publishes free newspaper Today. It also operates two entertainment radio channels, UFM 100.3 FM in Chinese and WKRZ 91.3 FM in English, under a joint venture company UnionWorks with NTUC Media.