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SPH Reports 30% Jump in Q3 Net Profit (ST)

BackJul 13, 2010

SINGAPORE Press Holdings (SPH) has posted a 29.9 per cent jump in third-quarter earnings, on the back of robust rebounds in both the group's newspaper and magazine segment and its property division.

Net profit for the quarter ended May 31 rose to $164.6 million, while recurring earnings jumped to $176.8 million in the quarter, up 34.7 per cent compared with the same period last year.

Group operating revenue went up 26.9 per cent to $415 million, the media group said in a statement yesterday.

The solid numbers were boosted by a pick-up in advertisement sales, which offset a dip in circulation revenue. Print advertisement revenue rose 28.1 per cent in the quarter to $204.3 million, with improvements across all ad categories, especially display and recruitment.

This helped push revenue for the newspaper and magazine segment up 19.8 per cent to $265.9 million, even though circulation revenue fell by 3.1 per cent.

Property revenue shot up by 43.4 per cent to $135.3 million, on the back of higher revenue from SPH's condominium Sky@eleven - which received its temporary occupation permit in May - and an increase in rental income from the group's Paragon shopping mall. Paragon has also been revalued: As of this month, its valuation stands at $2.28 billion.

However, the group's net investment income dropped 33.3 per cent to $11.7 million in the third quarter compared with a year earlier.

'Our print advertisement revenue and profit from our core newspaper business have rebounded strongly, in tandem with the economic recovery,' said SPH's chief executive officer, Mr Alan Chan, in a statement yesterday.

He added that the group 'remains committed to devote resources to develop our digital and interactive media businesses'.

In its statement, SPH said it expects some costs to go up. Newsprint prices are projected to rise due to cost pressures, while staff costs are also anticipated to increase due to 'higher bonus provisions this year and a buoyant job market'.

Barring unforeseen circumstances, SPH's directors expect the group's overall performance for the current financial year to beat last year's.

The third-quarter numbers bring SPH's year-to-date operating revenue past the $1 billion mark. At $1.09 billion, it represents a 14 per cent rise over the previous year, SPH said.

For the first three quarters of the current financial year, the group's net profit has surged 47.4 per cent to $422.6 million. Its net investment income for the same period is $25.4 million, a turnaround from a loss of $16.2 million a year earlier.

Group earnings per share for the third quarter rose to 10 cents, from eight cents a year earlier. For the first three quarters of this financial year, earnings per share surged to 26 cents, up from 18 cents the previous year.

Net asset value per share was $1.33 as of May 31, five cents higher than at Aug 31 last year.

SPH shares rose four cents yesterday to close at $3.93.