SINGAPORE (Oct 11): Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) reported earnings of $350.1 million for the FY17 ended August, an improvement of 32% from $265.3 million a year ago.

However, this was mainly due to a one-off gain of $149.7 million from the partial divestment of its stake in a joint venture regional online classifieds business, as well as a fair value gain of $57.4 million on its investment properties.

These gains were partially offset by charges of $96 million, which included impairment of the magazine business amid unfavourable market conditions, writedown of printing presses due to consolidation of printing capacity, and write-down of investments in associates to realisable value.

Group operating revenue fell 8.2% to $1.03 billion, from $1.12 billion a year ago, led by a continued decline in revenue from its core media business.

Media revenue fell 13% to $725.4 million in FY2017, from $834.2 million a year ago, with advertising and circulation revenues shrinking by 16.9% and 5.1%, respectively.

Property revenue was up 1.2% to $244.2 million, from $241.3 million a year ago, on the back of higher rental income from the group’s retail assets.

Revenue from other businesses increased 28.9% to $62.9 million, from $48.8 million a year ago. This was mainly attributed to income from SPH’s newly acquired healthcare business.

As at end August, cash and cash equivalents stood at $312.6 million.

“To deal with the disruption to our core media business, we will step up our investments to enhance our capabilities in digital, data analytics, radio broadcasts, video and content marketing. These will enable us to seek new growth and better meet the changing needs of our readers, subscribers and clients,” says SPH CEO Ng Yat Chung.

In addition, Ng says SPH will complete the full 10% staff reduction announced last October by the end of this calendar year.

“[It] is expected to incur retrenchment costs of approximately $13 million in the current quarter,” Ng says. “It includes restructuring the newsrooms and sales operations, reducing 15% of staff in these core media divisions.”

The final round of cuts will see some 230 employees retrenched.

SPH has proposed a final dividend of 9 cents per share for FY2017, comprising a normal dividend of 3 cents per share and a special dividend of 6 cents per share.

This is lower than the final dividend of 11 cents per share a year ago.

Together with the interim dividend of 6 cents, this brings total dividend payout for FY2017 to 15 cents.

Shares in SPH closed 2 cents lower at $2.69 on Wednesday.