SPH reports loss of $83.7m as Covid-19 hits
Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) posted its first ever net loss as it took a hit from the pandemic.
SPH reported a net loss of $83.7 million for the year that ended on Aug 31, reversing the net profit of $213.2 million a year ago as Covid-19 severely disrupted all segments of its business, the company said yesterday.
The group remains operationally profitable at $110.2 million. But losses in non-cash fair value of $232 million for investment properties, such as the retail and purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA), accounted for the net loss.
The property valuation of the retail malls was reduced by $196.5 million and the PBSA assets by $31.9 million.
The main impact of the coronavirus pandemic was partially cushioned by $68.5 million worth of Government grants, such as the Jobs Support Scheme, SPH noted.
Overall operating revenue declined $93.6 million or 9.8 per cent to $865.7 million, on the back of the 31.4 per cent decline in media advertisement revenue. The fall in advertising revenue led the media business segment to post a loss before taxation of $11.4 million, compared with the profit of $54.7 million for the previous financial year.
This loss takes into account retrenchment costs of $16.6 million.
Revenue for the media business also fell, by 22.8 per cent to $445.1 million. This was largely due to a decline of 32.9 per cent or $99.1 million in newspaper print advertisement revenue, as Covid-19 intensified the structural decline in the advertising sector, SPH said.
But circulation revenue held steady, supported by the 52.5 per cent increase in daily average newspaper digital sales of 130,598 copies, said SPH.
The property segment also saw a rise in revenue, by 10.3 per cent to $327.2 million, boosted by the acquisition of Westfield Marion and the Student Castle portfolio.
Revenue from the retail malls was also lifted by Westfield Marion but rental waivers of $33.8 million to tenants in Singapore eroded the gains.
Revenue from the PBSA portfolio grew strongly by 60.6 per cent or $22.1 million due to the Student Castle portfolio and a full year's revenue from the acquisitions made in the 2019 financial year.
However, with the fair valuation loss on investment properties, the property segment turned negative with a loss before taxation of $75.8 million.