SPH posts $97.9 million net profit in first half of financial year

Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) posted a net profit of $97.9 million for the first half of the financial year, as its various businesses recover from the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic.

Net profit rose 26.1 per cent for the first half that ended on Feb 28 from improvements in the group's non-media business segments, it reported.

Operating profit rose 16.6 per cent to $119.8 million, SPH said yesterday.

Overall, total revenue dipped 4.2 per cent to $460.3 million, with a decline in operating revenue from the media business.

This was partially offset by higher rental income of $15.4 million, mainly from purpose-built student accommodation and the retail and commercial segment. The fall was also cushioned by grant income of $15 million from Jobs Support Scheme.

Total costs dropped by 9.8 per cent to $340.5 million. This is largely due to lower materials, production and distribution costs, which fell 40.9 per cent, or $23.9 million, with the decline in revenue from media and exhibitions.

Disciplined cost management also reduced staff costs by 4.6 per cent to $158 million due to the lower headcount.

Revenue for the media segment fell 23.9 per cent to $193.1 million, with advertising revenue continuing to take a hit.

The structural decline in the advertising sector had led to a decline of 27.9 per cent, or $46.5 million, in media advertisement revenue. Newspaper print ad revenue fell 28.8 per cent or $36.3 million. Circulation revenue decreased 4.7 per cent, or $3 million, as daily average newspaper print sales fell by 16 per cent.

This was partially cushioned by strong digital circulation growth with a 20.2 per cent increase in daily average newspaper digital sales of around 70,000 copies, said SPH, which publishes The Straits Times.

SPH said digital circulation continues to grow, partially offsetting the fall in print circulation. Profit before tax for the segment was 70.9 per cent lower year on year at $3.1 million.

The board has declared an interim dividend of 3 cents a share payable on May 21, which exceeds the 2.5 cents paid out for financial year 2020.

SPH said it is undergoing a strategic review to consider the options for its various businesses. The objective of the review is to "unlock and maximise long-term shareholder value", the group announced yesterday after market closed.