SINGAPORE, 12 July 2005 - Mainboard-listed Singapore Press Holdings Limited (SPH) today reported results for its third quarter ended 31 May 2005. The Group registered a net profit of $98.6 million, compared to $369.5 million in the same quarter of the previous financial year. The Group’s profit in the previous year included income of $170.5 million from disposal of the Group’s entire indirect stake in Belgacom and gain of $110.1 million from the sale of Times House.
Group operating revenue increased to $259.8 million, boosted by revenue from the Group’s core Newspaper and Magazine operations which rose 6.3% to $235.7 million, and Property segment which saw revenues increase 8.2% to $22.5 million. Following the cessation of broadcasting operations, the Group’s operating revenue for this quarter no longer includes broadcasting advertising revenue, which amounted to $8.6 million in the corresponding period last year.
Profit from Group operations for the quarter increased 26.5% to $111.1 million. Total operating expenses fell 11.3% to $150.8 million, largely attributable to cost savings with the cessation of broadcasting operations. The savings in staff costs from the broadcasting operations were partially offset by higher headcount arising from the acquisition of Blu Inc media and publishing business and expansion of the Group’s existing magazine business, and annual staff salary increment. Overall, the Group’s headcount fell to 3,448 at end of May 2005 from 3,563 a year ago. Newsprint cost however increased 10.5% as a result of higher prices.
Included in this quarter’s results was an exceptional loss of $11.6 million which pertained to charges associated with the merger of the Group’s free-to-air television broadcasting and free newspaper operations. Last year’s exceptional gain of $96.8 million comprised mainly gain from sale of Times House, partially offset by impairment losses on plant and equipment.
Group investment income for the quarter was $38.0 million against $205.4 million a year ago as last year included income on disposal of the Group’s entire indirect interest in Belgacom. The Group’s share of losses of associates was $2.8 million, mainly attributable to share of loss of $3.2 million from MediaCorp TV Holdings, partially offset by share of profit of $0.8 million from MediaCorp Press.
For the nine months ended 31 May 2005, the Group registered a 12.7% increase in operating profit to $296.9 million compared to $263.3 million of the corresponding period last year. After factoring in exceptional items for both years and one-off gain from disposal of stakes in StarHub and Belgacom, the net profit was $417.8 million against $542.5 million last year. Group operating revenue grew 5.1% to $760.1 million.
Commenting on the outlook for the rest of the financial year, Mr Alan Chan, Chief Executive Officer of SPH said: "The Group’s newspaper advertising revenue is expected to grow in tandem with the moderating economic growth for the year 2005. Overall, the Directors expect the profit from operations of the Group for the current financial year to be better than last financial year."
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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.