SPH's Q3 profit down due to print, digital ad revenue rises 11%

Singapore Press Holdings (SPH)'s operating profit for the third quarter ended 31 May 2019 has declined 36.6% to SG$29.2 million due to lower media revenue and higher operating expenses. Operating revenue has also eased 1.6% to SG$246.1 million due to lower print ad revenue.

Specifically, its media business revenue for 9M FY19 declined 11.6% or SG$57.7 million to SG$439.7 million. This was contributed by 12.3% fall in newspaper print ad revenue and 8.9% drop in media circulation revenue. Profit declined 32.2% or SG$24.7 million to SG$52.1 million.

However, the digital side of the media business remains on the upswing with newspaper digital ad revenue rising 11% compared with a year ago. Daily average newspaper digital sales increased 12.8%.

Moving forward, the group looks to focus on digital innovations to address its challenges in the media business. According to a press release, SPH's news tablet campaign to drive circulation is being expanded to include The Straits Times, Business Times, Berita Harian and Tamil Murasu in the coming months on the back of its success.

SPH CEO Ng Yat Chung said: “The media business continues to be challenged on various fronts including the ongoing trade tensions and the slowing of the Singapore economy, but we remain focused on our digital transformation strategy."

SPH's decline in print advertisement revenue was cushioned by the growing contribution from the student accommodation portfolio and from SPH REIT’s retail asset Figtree Grove Shopping Centre in Australia. However, the enlarged student accommodation portfolio and SPH REIT also led to higher operational costs as well as financing costs and professional fees. Overall, operating expenses were 5.5% or SG$11.6 million higher. Net profit attributable to shareholders fell 44.1% to SG$26.2 million.