Group turnover increased 8.0% to $970.1 million, boosted by revenue from the Group´s core Newspaper and Magazine operations which rose 5.6% to $833.2 million, and from its Property segment which saw revenues increase 56.7% to $82.6 million. However, revenue from Broadcasting and Multimedia segment fell 2.6% to $54.3 million.
“Riding on improved consumer sentiments, which was adversely affected by SARS last year, the Group´s advertising revenue for the financial year registered positive year-on-year growth. Performance of the Group was also boosted by additional rental income generated by the new Paragon extension, which commenced operations on 1 September 2003,” said Mr Alan Chan, Chief Executive Officer of SPH.
Profit from Group operations for the full year grew 16.2% to $337.9 million. Operating expenses was 4.5% higher at $643.5 million. Newsprint cost increased 6.2% because of higher newsprint prices, while staff costs were 9.0% more attributable to higher staff variable bonus provision in line with higher operating profits. The Group´s average headcount for the year was however lower at 3,564 compared to 3,715 last year.
SPH MediaWorks Ltd, SPH´s broadcasting arm, incurred operating loss of $44.5 million for the year, up from the $40.2 million recognised in the previous financial year. This was attributable to the increased investment in production of local programmes amidst the competitive television environment.
Group investment income surged to $258.0 million from $39.6 million last year, $170.5 million of which arose from the disposal of the Group´s entire indirect stake in Belgacom. Revaluation gain on Euro deposits, higher dividends, lower provision for diminution in value of investments, and increased profits from sale of investments further contributed to the better performance of investment income.
Exceptional items for the financial year included gain of $110.1 million on the sale of Times House, partially offset by $15.5 million impairment losses on property, plant and equipment and a $65.3 million charge pursuant to an exercise to review the Group´s broadcasting assets.
Commenting on the outlook for the next financial year, Mr Chan said: “The Group´s newspaper advertising revenue is expected to grow in tandem with the improving economy. The operating performance of the broadcasting and multimedia segment should improve upon completion of the recently announced rationalisation of the free-to-air television broadcasting and free newspaper businesses. Barring any adverse development in the geopolitical and economic environment, the Directors expect the operating performance of the Group for the next financial year to improve.”
The directors of SPH have declared a final net dividend of 17 cents per share (or gross dividend of around 21 cents per share), comprising 8 cents normal and 9 cents special, bringing the total net dividend payout in respect of the financial year ended 31 August 2004 to around 20 cents per share (or gross dividend payout of around 25 cents per share) on a split adjusted basis.
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Ms Irene Ngoo
Assistant Vice President
Singapore Press Holdings
Tel: 6319 1216
Fax: 6319 8150
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 63 magazine titles. Everyday, 2.8 million individuals, or 90 per cent of people in Singapore above 15 years old, read one of the SPH publications, while the online editions of its main dailies and magazines enjoy some 300 million pageviews a month and reach out to a 4 million-strong global audience. SPH operates two popular free-to-air TV channels, Channel U in Chinese and Channel i in English, as well as 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.
For more information about SPH, please log on to www.sph.com.sg