SPH media business still facing tough times but ad buys looking up

Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) reported a flat half year performance for 1H 2018, with a net profit attributable to shareholders of SG$100.6 million which was SG$1.4 million or 1.4% higher than the same period last year (1H 2017). For 2Q2018, group recurring earnings dipped SG$3.6 million or 6.9% to SG$49.4 million in tandem with revenue decline.

Group operating revenue of SG$492.5 million for 1H 2018 was SG$23.8 million or 4.6% lower, compared with 1H 2017. Revenue for the media business for 1H 2018 decreased by SG$40.4 million or 10.9% to SG$329.5 million. Revenue for the media business for 2Q 2018 was $155.6 million. The 7.4% year-on-year (yoy) decline in the second quarter was an improvement compared with the 13.9% yoy fall reported in the first quarter.

Ng Yat Chung, chief executive officer of SPH, said: “We are focusing on our digital blueprint for the future, which includes our new all-digital subscription plans, and our strengthened integrated multi-platform marketing.” He added that the Group is facing its digital challenges head on, steering towards growing digital subscriptions and regaining advertising ground.

SPH also released its all-digital subscription plans at different price points, accelerating its “First to Digital” initiatives to pursue digital revenue more aggressively. The Group has expanded overseas bureaus to enhance its quality journalism and created unique news offerings such as The Straits Times Asia Report’s bimonthly magazine and the popular China portal.

SPH said, daily average digital circulation copies have increased by 112,000 from 2Q 2017 to 2Q 2018. The company added that SPH’s advertising sales team continues to make headway in selling integrated solutions that cut across its print, digital, radio and outdoor platforms.

In 1H 2018, about 40% more advertisers bought integrated solutions that featured two or more platforms over the same period last year. SPH’s latest initiatives for integrated marketing solutions for advertisers include teaming up with a neuroscience technology company NeuroTrend for deeper consumer insights and more effective solutions.

Revenue for the property segment of SG$121.7 million was stable yoy. The property segment, which accounts for close to 60% of the group’s profit, continued to provide a steady income stream and stability to the Group’s financial performance. Revenue from the other businesses grew SG$17.3 million or 72.4% to SG$41.3 million, led by contributions from the aged care business. Recurring earnings of SG$117.3 million was SG$6.5 million or 5.3% lower than 1H 2017 as cost savings cushioned the decline in revenue.

” Our upcoming joint venture project The Woodleigh Residences and The Woodleigh Mall will contribute to our growth in the next few years. We are also exploring further growth in aged care and other property asset management sectors for the longer term,” Ng said.

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