SINGAPORE, 12 October 2006 - Mainboard-listed Singapore Press Holdings Limited (SPH) today reported its full year results for year ended 31 August 2006. Profit before investment income and exceptional items improved 2.6% to $361.1 million from $351.9 million a year ago. After taking into account one-off items such as write-back of impairment losses for The Paragon this year and gain on sale of the Group´s substantial stake in StarHub Limited last year, net profit for the year was $428.5 million compared to $488.3 million in the previous financial year.
The Group´s operating revenue posted an increase of 1.4% to $1.02 billion. Revenue for the Newspaper and Magazine operations grew 1.7% to $907.0 million while Property segment rose 10.4% to $98.7 million.
Total operating expenses at $670.3 million was marginally up by 0.9%. Materials, consumables and broadcasting costs were lower by 7.1% mainly attributable to cost savings from the cessation of TV broadcasting operations last year partially offset by 9.2% increase in newsprint costs arising from higher newsprint prices and consumption. Staff costs were slightly down by 0.1% mainly due to savings arising from the cessation of TV broadcasting operations offset by annual salary increment and increase in headcount. Total headcount as at end August 2006 was 3,585, compared to 3,443 a year ago mainly due to the launch of new editorial products and ventures into outdoor advertising and other media businesses. Increase in other operating expenses by 15.6% was mainly attributable to higher operating costs associated with the new business ventures, higher premises cost incurred by The Paragon in line with increased level of activities, and staff outplacement benefits paid.
Group investment income was $81.7 million against $248.6 million last year. Excluding the one-time gain of $128.5 million from the disposal of the Group´s substantial stake in StarHub Limited and $12.8 million income arising from a capital reduction exercise undertaken by an investee company last year, the balance variance was mainly attributable to lower contribution from externally-managed investments and lower profit on sale of internally-managed investments partially offset by higher dividend income received.
The exceptional gain of $66.8 million mainly arose from the write-back of impairment losses for The Paragon ($70.5 million) in view of its strong sustained valuation. This was partially offset by impairment charges pertaining to the Group´s investment in the outdoor advertising and magazine businesses. The exceptional loss of $38.5 million last year comprised mainly charges associated with the media merger and impairment of goodwill that arose from the acquisition of new magazine business.
Commenting on the outlook for the next financial year, Mr Alan Chan, Chief Executive Officer of SPH said: “The Group´s print advertisement revenue is expected to remain stable, and despite a declining trend in global newspaper circulation sales, the Group continues to sustain its level of circulation sales. The Paragon is likely to continue returning healthy rental yields amidst the positive sentiments in the property market. The Group, being cognizant of the increasingly important role of technology in today´s media landscape, will actively pursue opportunities to leverage on technology for content creation and advertising across various media platforms. Overall, the Directors expect the recurring earnings for the current financial year to be satisfactory.”
Mr Alan Chan added: “The Company will be seeking shareholders´ approval to implement a Performance Share Plan so as to enable the Company to motivate employees to achieve superior performance as well as to align the interests of employees and shareholders.”
The Directors of SPH have proposed a Final Dividend of 17 cents per share, comprising a Normal Dividend of 8 cents per share and a Special Dividend of 9 cents per share in respect of the financial year ended 31 August 2006. These dividends are on tax-exempt (one-tier) basis and will be paid on 22 December 2006. Together with the Interim Dividend paid during the year, total Dividend payout for FY 2006 will be 24 cents.
Please see attached announcement and fact sheets of SPH Full Year Results
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About Singapore Press Holdings Limited
Main board listed Singapore Press Holdings Limited is the leading media company in Singapore, in the print, Internet and broadcasting platforms. It publishes 14 newspapers in the four official languages, including Singapore’s first free Chinese newspaper, My Paper, and over 80 magazine titles. Everyday, 2.7 million individuals, or 83 per cent of the people above 15 years old, read one of the SPH publications. Its Internet Business Unit manages the online editions of SPH’s major newspapers, which enjoy over 100 million pageviews from 6 million unique visitors every month. More recent online additions are the classified website, ST701, and STOMP (Straits Times Online Mobile Print), a portal that connects, engages and interacts with readers on the Internet and via mobile messaging.
SPH owns and operates Paragon, the prime shopping and office building in the heart of Orchard Road. Paragon features international brands and luxury goods, restaurants serving wide-ranging cuisines and lifestyle facilities such as spas and a fitness club.
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 sheet Today. SPH has a 70% stake in SPH UnionWorks, which operates two entertainment radio channels, Radio 100.3 in Chinese and Radio 91.3 in English. In addition, SPH holds an 80% stake in SPH MediaBoxOffice Pte Ltd, Singapore’s largest LED network media company, and a 35% stake in TOM Outdoor Media Group, a leading outdoor advertising company in China.