Singapore — Media organisation Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) incurred its first full-year loss of S$83.7 million for the financial year ended Aug 31, 2020.
This is the first time in its 36-year history since it was formed in 1984 that there is a full-year loss. Most of its investments were hit by the Covid-19 pandemic. It has businesses in print, digital, radio, outdoor media, property and aged care.
A year ago, SPH saw profit of S$213.2 million for its financial year ending Aug 31, 2019.
According to a channelnewsasia.com report, SPH recorded an operating profit of S$110.2 million in FY2020, despite its performance in the second half of the financial year being significantly affected by the “Circuit Breaker” period.
SPH saw a rise in revenue for its property segment by 10.3 per cent to S$327.2 million, boosted by its acquisition of a retail mall in Australia, and a portfolio of student accommodation assets in the United Kingdom.
However, with the fair valuation loss on investment properties of S$228.6 million, its property segment turned negative with a S$75.8 million loss before taxation, compared with a profit of S$263 million in the previous financial year.
Despite this, a total dividend of 2.5 Singapore cents per share — comprising a normal dividend of 1 cent and an interim dividend of 1.5 cents — was declared.
SPH added that despite disciplined cost management which saw staff costs easing 1.5 per cent based on a lower headcount and reduced bonuses, and newsprint and material costs being trimmed 11.2 per cent, total costs went up by 6.8 per cent or S$53.7 million, to S$844.4 million.
According to the channelnewsasia report, SPH Chief Executive Officer 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.”
Overall, SPH still remained operationally profitable. It made a S$110.2 million profit, which is a 41 per cent drop from 2019, when it earned S$186.9 million. /TISG