Singapore

Full-year profit declines 23%

Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) yesterday reported a 23.4 per cent decline in net profit for the full year ended Aug 31 to $213.2 million compared with a year ago.

This was largely due to the lack of a one-off gain from the sale of the treasury and investment portfolio as it redeploys the capital to invest in steadier, more predictable defensive, yield-generating assets.

Operating profit fell 12.2 per cent to $186.9 million as operating revenue dipped 2.4 per cent to $959.3 million, with the improved property revenue mitigating media's decline. Property revenue rose 22.3 per cent to $296.5 million, due to acquisitions of UK student housing assets and Figtree Grove in Australia.

Media revenue fell 12 per cent to $576.9 million. Total print advertisement revenue decreased by 14.9 per cent, or $57 million, and total circulation revenue declined by $11 million, or 7.3 per cent.

SPH chief executive Ng Yat Chung said: "The media business continues to be challenged with the decline in print advertisement and circulation revenue. But we are seeing progress in our digital transformation strategy in terms of improved digital advertisement and circulation growth."

The media segment is also investing in data analytics to better understand the audience and customers.

Digital business showed healthy growth with innovative products like the news tablet, which saw the Chinese newspapers attracting more than 10,000 sign-ups, of which three-quarters were new subscribers.

The board has proposed a final dividend of 6.5 cents per share, comprising a normal dividend of 5.5 cents per share and a special dividend of one cent per share for FY2019. These will be paid on Dec 20.

BUSINESS & FINANCE