SINGAPORE, 6 April 2004 – Mainboard-listed Singapore Press Holdings Limited (SPH) today reported results for its second quarter ended 29 February 2004. The Group registered a net profit of $89.3 million for the quarter, compared to $190.7 million (including $134.0 million exceptional items) in the same quarter of the previous financial year.
Group turnover increased 6.3% to $228.1 million. Revenue from the Group´s core Newspaper and Magazine operations increased 3.6% to $192.4 million, while its Property segment saw revenues increase 54.1% to $21.0 million. However, revenue from Broadcasting and Multimedia segment fell 4.3% to $14.7 million.
Mr Alan Chan, Chief Executive Officer of SPH, said: “There are signs of improvement in the performance of our core Newspaper and Magazine operations but the performance of our Broadcasting and Multimedia segment remained soft. Overall performance of the Group was also boosted by additional rental income generated by the new Paragon extension, which commenced operations on 1 September 2003.”
Profit from overall operations increased 12.0% to $80.2 million. Operating expenses increased 3.7% to $150.7 million. Newsprint cost for the quarter increased 6.4% as a result of higher newsprint prices, while staff costs were 7.4% higher attributable to higher staff variable bonus provision, which included an adjustment for an underprovision in the first quarter. The Group´s headcount fell to 3,539 at the end February 2004 from 3,725 a year ago.
With continued focus on costs control, operating losses of SPH MediaWorks Ltd, SPH´s broadcasting arm, narrowed to $6.4 million from the $10.3 million registered in the previous financial year´s second quarter.
With the improvement in financial markets globally, investment income for the quarter surged to $23.3 million, from $2.9 million last year. No exceptional item was recorded for the quarter. In the second quarter last financial year, the Group recognised an exceptional gain of $187.7 million from the partial sale of its stake in MobileOne Ltd but it took an exceptional provision of $50 million as a result of deterioration in the valuation of Paragon.
For the half-year ended 29 February 2004, the Group registered a net profit of $173.0 million, compared to $273.5 million last year which included an exceptional gain of $135.8 million. Group turnover increased 2.3% to $468.4 million. Commenting on the outlook for the rest of the financial year, Mr Chan said: “The upturn in the Group´s newspaper advertising revenue is expected to continue but the extent will depend on the growth momentum in domestic demand. Barring any unforeseen circumstances, the Directors are optimistic about the operating performance of the Group for the current financial year.”
The directors of SPH have declared an interim gross dividend of 20 cents per share which will be paid on 5 May 2004. As part of its ongoing efforts to enhance shareholder value and improve accessibility for retail investors, the directors have further announced plans for a $1 billion capital reduction and 5-for-1 share split. Please refer to the separate press release and announcement for details.