India's Zee Entertainment reports Q4 profit as advertising demand picks up

FILE PHOTO: Illstration shows Zee Entertainment logo

BENGALURU(Reuters) -India's Zee Entertainment Enterprises reported a quarterly profit on Friday, compared with a loss a year earlier, helped by strong demand for advertising and a fall in expenses.

The company posted a profit of 133.5 million rupees ($1.60 million) from a year-ago loss of 1.96 billion rupees.

Domestic advertising revenue for the quarter rose nearly 11% year-on-year, driven by the continued recovery in the macro advertising environment and spending pickup by FMCG (fast-moving consumer goods) clients, Zee said in a filing with exchanges.

The company's earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortization margins expanded to 9.7% from 7.2% a year earlier.

Total income grew about 3% to 21.85 billion rupees, while overall expenses fell about 2%, primarily due to a decline in programming and technology costs.

Sony had scrapped its $10 billion merger with Zee in January, ending a deal that would have created an Indian TV juggernaut with more than 90 channels across sports, entertainment and news.

Zee had, since then, announced a slew of measures to cut costs and reduce losses in its business, including cutting 15% of its workforce.

Operation-wise, Zee has done a reasonable job with tariff order price hikes and advertisement revenue growth, said Karan Taurani, media analyst at Elara Capital.

The company said it took a restructuring-related charge of 219.7 million rupees during the quarter.

"Will see most of one-time higher costs towards implementing the interventions, offsetting underlying operating performance improvements and causing softness on margins for the first quarter," Zee said.

Fiscal year 2025 margins are expected to be meaningfully better than the previous year, the company added.

($1 = 83.3180 Indian rupees)

(Reporting by Sethuraman NR, Kashish Tandon and Aleef Jahan in Bengaluru; Editing by Eileen Soreng)