Singapore, 26 March 2002 - Main board listed Singapore Press Holdings Limited
(SPH) today reported its half year results which saw a 20.3% drop in net profit to
$163.0 million for the half year ended 28 February 2002, compared to the same period last year. Turnover dropped by 17.6% to $436.2 million while trading profit fell by 39.6% to $123.9 million.
Circulation revenue has regained all lost ground due to the initial impact of the free
sheets, and has in fact grown higher than last year by 0.9%. Circulation sales for the main flagship newspapers, The Straits Times (+1.2%) and Lianhe ZaoBao (+0.1%) improved with The New Paper posting the strongest growth (+8.5%).
"Our advertising revenue was affected by the economic slowdown made worse by the terrorist attack in United States at the beginning of our financial year. There are signs of recovery in the United States but the benefit might take some time to filter through to Singapore," said Mr Lim Kim San, Executive Chairman of SPH.
"The current operating environment is more benign with signs of bottoming out in the
decline of advertising revenue. However, there are no clear signs of sustained recovery as yet," he added.
The Group has implemented wage restraint measures effective November 2001.
Rightsizing of the Internet and TV operations was also carried out to align the cost base with the revenue generated. All these resulted in a reduction of 7.5% in staff cost.
Newsprint cost decreased by 29.7% compared to the last half year mainly due to lower consumption. Newsprint prices have continued to soften in the current year, which will help to cushion the drop in advertisement revenue.
"We will continue to be vigilant in productivity and cost management and will consider further cost cutting measures if trading conditions remain weak." said Mr Lim.
SPH MediaWorks, SPH’s broadcasting arm, reported a turnover of $10.2 million and
trading loss of $22.7 million for the half year. The Chinese channel, Channel U has
steadily increased its market share in Chinese viewership during prime time. However,
monetising the ratings has been difficult due to the recession.
Investment income for the half year was $30.9 million, 41.9% lower than last year due to a smaller fund size. The Group has been actively returning surplus cash back to shareholders in the last few years to improve its return on equity. This income stream is expected to diminish over time if the Group continues the current practice of returning surplus cash to shareholders.
The directors of SPH have declared an interim dividend of 20 cents per share to be paid on 28 April 2002.
SINGAPORE PRESS HOLDINGS
For more information, please contact:
Ms Esther Low
Singapore Press Holdings
Tel: 6319 1280
Fax: 6319 8150