SPH reports 23.4% drop in FY19 earnings to $213.2 mil; announces plans to cut 5% of media staff

Amala Balakrishner

SINGAPORE (Oct 17): Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) is looking to cut 5% of staff from its media group as print revenue continues to slide. Following a review of its media business, SPH says it will be restructuring and streamlining its media and magazines operations.

The exercise is expected to be completed in 1Q20, and is estimated to incur retrenchment costs of around $8 million.

SPH saw its full-year earnings drop 23.4% y-o-y to $213.2 million in FY19, from $278.4 million a year ago.

Earnings per share (EPS) slipped to 0.13 cents in FY19, compared to 0.17 cents in FY18.

The decline comes on the back of poorer performance in its media segments, as well as the absence of the one-off gain from the divestment of its treasury and investment portfolio.

The group’s operating profit was down 12.2% y-o-y to $186.9 million, following a 2.4% dip in operating revenue to $959.3 million.

Revenue from its property segment was up 22.3% y-o-y to $296.5 million, following its asset acquisitions during the year.

The increase was offset by a 12% y-o-y decline in revenue from its media segment to $576.9 million.

Total print advertisement revenue fell 14.9% y-o-y, while total circulation revenue declined by 7.3%.

“The media business continues to be challenged with the decline in print advertisement and circulation revenue. But we are seeing progress in our digital transformation strategy in terms of improved digital advertisement and circulation growth,” says Ng Yat Chung, CEO of SPH.

“The restructuring will enable us to deliver more effective integrated solutions across various media platforms to meet the evolving demands of our advertising customers as well as audiences. We continue to invest in the newsrooms and digital media capabilities while remaining disciplined about costs,” he adds.

The group has declared a final dividend of 6.5 cents per share for FY19 – 7.1% lower than the final dividend of 7 cents per share paid a year ago – payable on Dec 20.

The final dividend comprises a normal dividend of 5.5 cents per share and a special dividend of 1 cent per share. Together with the interim dividend of 5.5 cents per share, total dividend payout for FY19 will be 12 cents per share.

Shares in SPH closed 3 cents lower, or down 1.4%, at $2.13 on Thursday before the results announcement.