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SPH reports a Third Quarter Net Profit of $369.5 million. Improvement in performance of core newspaper operation

SINGAPORE, 2 July 2004 – Mainboard-listed Singapore Press Holdings Limited (SPH) today reported results for its third quarter ended 31 May 2004. After accounting for the income from the disposal of the Group´s indirect interest in Belgacom and sale of Times House, the Group registered a net profit of $369.5 million for the quarter, compared to $63.3 million in the same quarter of the previous financial year.

 

Group turnover increased 17.8% to $254.8 million. Revenue from the Group´s core Newspaper and Magazine operations rose 15.4% to $221.7 million. Property segment saw revenues increase 62.8% to $20.8 million while revenue from Broadcasting and Multimedia segment was 8.2% higher at $12.3 million.

Mr Alan Chan, Chief Executive Officer of SPH, said: “The performance of our core Newspaper and Magazine operations has gained strength over the previous year, on the back of a low base period affected by SARS. Consumer sentiments have seen positive improvement. Performance of the Group was further boosted by additional rental income generated by the new Paragon extension, which commenced operations on 1 September 2003.”

Profit from Group operations increased 23.7% to $87.8 million. Operating expenses increased 15.3% to $170.0 million. Newsprint cost for the quarter increased 11.5% as a result of higher newsprint prices, while staff costs were 9.9% more attributable to higher staff variable bonus provision as a result of higher operating profits. The Group´s headcount fell to 3,563 at the end May 2004 from 3,726 a year ago.

Amidst the competitive television environment, SPH MediaWorks Ltd, SPH´s broadcasting arm, incurred an operating loss of $13.8 million, up from the $12.6 million registered in the previous financial year´s third quarter.

Investment income for the quarter surged to $205.4 million from $17.3 million last year, of which $170.5 million came from the disposal of the Group´s entire indirect stake in Belgacom. Revaluation gain on Eurodeposits, increased profits from sale of investments and higher dividends also contributed to the better performance in investment income. The exceptional gain of $110.1 million on the sale of Times House was recorded in this quarter.

For the nine months ended 31 May 2004, the Group registered a 21% increase in operating profit to $263.3 million compared to $217.6 million last year. After factoring in exceptional items, the net profit was $542.5 million against $336.8 million last year. Group turnover increased 7.5% to $731.6 million.

Commenting on the outlook for the last quarter of the financial year, Mr Chan said: “The Group´s newspaper advertising revenue is expected to grow in tandem with the improving economy. The Directors expect the operating performance of the Group for the current financial year to be better than last financial year.”

Please see attached pdf files on fact sheets on 3rd quarter financial results.

Issued by Singapore Press Holdings Limited


For more information, please contact:

Ms Irene Ngoo
Assistant Vice President
Corporate Relations
Singapore Press Holdings
Tel: 6319 1216
Fax: 6319 8150
E-mail: ingoo@sph.com.sg

About SPH
Main board listed Singapore Press Holdings Limited is the leading news and information provider, offering quality content for print, Internet, TV and radio. It publishes 14 newspapers in the four official languages and seven lifestyle magazines. Everyday, 2.78 million individuals, or 90 per cent of people above 15 years old, read one of the SPH publications while the online editions of its six main dailies enjoy some 120 million pageviews a month. SPH has ventured into the broadcast medium and operates two popular free-to-air TV channels, Channel U in Chinese and Channel i in English. 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.