SINGAPORE (Jan 13): Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) has posted earnings of $46.3 million for 1QFY2020 ended November 2019, falling 17.2% from earnings of $55.9 million a year ago.

Total revenue slipped 3.8% to $249.0 million in 1QFY2020, from $258.8 million a year ago, mainly due to a 19.8% drop in newspaper print advertisement revenue.

Revenue for the media segment fell 13.6% to $140.1 million, and was cushioned by improved revenue from the expanded UK student accommodation portfolio and SPH REIT.

Circulation revenue fell $1.5 million, or 4.3%, as daily average newspaper print sales decreased by 10.3%.

Newspaper digital advertisement revenue was $0.6 million higher, or up 8.8%, as daily average newspaper digital sales increased 49.8%.

Profit before tax for the media segment plunged 76.8% to $7.5 million in 1QFY2020, from $32.3 million a year ago.

The decrease was spearheaded by the $22 million drop in media revenue, as well as retrenchment costs of $7.2 million recognised during the quarter.

Revenue for the property segment rose $18.9% to $54.9 million in 1QFY2020, mainly due to a fair value gain of $10.5 million arising from an adjustment to the purchase consideration of an asset in the purpose-built student accommodation (PBSA) portfolio.

The property segment currently contributes to about 80% of SPH’s profits.

Total operating profit shrank 27.9% to $53.9 million during the quarter, from $74.8 million a year ago.

As at end November, cash and cash equivalents stood at $855.4 million.

“Our core media business remains challenged as advertisers cut back on their advertising due to the uncertain business outlook. However, we are encouraged by the response to our digital transformation initiatives,” says Ng Yat Chung, Chief Executive Officer of SPH.

“The recent addition of 2,383 beds to our UK PBSA portfolio and the expansion of SPH REIT into Adelaide post 1QFY2020 will strengthen our efforts to boost recurring income from the property segment,” he adds.

Shares in SPH closed 1 cent lower at $2.18 on Monday before the results announcement.