SINGAPORE — Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) on Tuesday (13 October) reported the group’s first-ever full-year net loss of $83.7 million in its 2020 financial year (FY2020), attributing it to the economic disruption brought upon by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The net loss comes after taking in a $232 million non-cash fair value loss on its investment properties, said the group in a press release. This is also despite receiving $68.5 million from the Jobs Support Scheme (JSS) and other government grants.
In comparison, its net profit for the last financial year, which ends in August, was $213.2 million.
For FY2020, the group posted a 9.8 per cent drop in overall revenue to $865.7 million.
Revenue for the media business fell 22.8 per cent to $$445.1 million, largely due to the 32.9 per cent decline of $99.1 million in newspaper print advertisement revenue. The increase in government advertisements was unable to replace the fall in fast-moving consumer goods and property advertisements, the group said.
Digital advertisement revenue also took a hit, with a 6.2 per cent dip to $54.8 million despite a steady growth since the 2017 financial year.
Pre-tax loss in the media business was $11.4 million – compared to a profit of $54.7 million for the previous financial year – after taking into account retrenchment costs of $16.6 million.
The loss was partially mitigated by $28.1 million of JSS and a reduction in costs of 7.6 per cent or $42.3 million.
SPH CEO Ng Yat Chung said, “All our major business segments were severely disrupted by COVID-19. Our media business is badly affected by the collapse in advertising. However, the 9.4 per cent growth in circulation numbers from the success of our News Tablet digital product and higher readership is a bright spot.”
Property segment gains eroded
Revenue for the property segment rose by 10.3 per cent to $327.2 million boosted by the acquisition of Westfield Marion and the Student Castle.
While revenue from the retail malls was lifted by the contribution from Westfield Marion of $37.5 million, rental waivers of $33.8 million to tenants in Singapore eroded the gains, said the group.
Revenue from the purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) portfolio grew 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 last financial year.
“However, with the fair valuation loss on investment properties of $228.6 million, the property segment turned negative with a loss before taxation of $75.8 million compared with a profit of $263 million for FY19,” said the group.
Revenue in the “others” segment rose 8.7 per cent to $93.3 million, aided by the higher sales of personal protective equipment in the aged care business.
Headcount at the group, as at end-August, fell 6.8 per cent from 4,085 to 3,808 staff, following two restructuring exercises in the marketing division and magazines business.
Staff costs dropped 1.5 per cent to $328.4 million based on the lower headcount and reduced bonus provision.
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