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Surge in investment income lifts SPH's quarterly profits by 28% - Apr 13, 2007 (ST)

BackApr 13, 2007

The Straits Times / The Business Times News On SPH

Surge in investment income lifts SPH's quarterly profits by 28%

Surge in investment income lifts SPH's quarterly profits by 28%.

By Lee Su Shyan, Companies Correspondent
Apr 13, 2007
The Straits Times

ROBUST investment income lifted second-quarter net profits at Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) by 28 per cent to $108 million. The results beat the $94 million net profit figure estimated by a Dow Jones poll of analysts.

Income from investments rose an impressive 62 per cent to $31.6 million, while profits excluding investment income came in at about 1 per cent higher at $84 million.

The core business registered growth, with operating revenue up 4.5 per cent at $250.6 million.

ROBUST AD SUPPORT

'Positive business and consumer sentiments are expected to continue providing good support to sustaining the group's print ad revenue.'
-MR ALAN CHAN, SPH chief executive

Revenues on the newspaper and magazine front rose 4 per cent to $218.1 million, mostly due to higher advertising revenue but rising circulation also chipped in.

Circulation of The Sunday Times rose 1.2 per cent for the first half compared with a year earlier but The Straits Times' circulation dipped 0.9 per cent. Circulation of The Business Times jumped 4.1 per cent while that of Berita Harian surged 9.3 per cent.

The property segment - which includes Paragon in Orchard Road - registered a 9 per cent rise in revenue to $27.3 million for the second quarter.

On the cost front, newsprint was dearer while staff costs rose due to annual salary increases and bonuses. Total headcount at the end of February was 3,628 compared with 3,472 a year ago.

For the half-year ended Feb 28, profit before investment income was $191.3 million, compared with $186.2 million a year ago, while net profits for the six months were $220.3 million, 20 per cent higher than a year ago.

Profits for the sellout condominium Sky@eleven will be recognised on a percentage-of-completion basis over the life of the project and disclosed accordingly.

Chief executive Alan Chan expects recurring earnings for the current financial year to be satisfactory.

He said: 'Positive business and consumer sentiments are expected to continue providing good support to sustaining the group's print advertisement revenue.

'Circulation sales are expected to remain at sustainable levels. Paragon is expected to ride on strong sentiments surrounding the property market and continue to generate healthy rental yields.'

Earnings per share for the quarter rose to seven cents from five cents previously. Net asset value per share was $1.26, a dip from the $1.28 as at Aug 31.

An interim dividend of seven cents per share was declared, payable on May 15.

SPH shares ended two cents lower at $4.60 amid a general market selldown. The results were released after the market closed.