SINGAPORE (Apr 9): Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) reported 2Q19 earnings of $29.7 million, down 25.7% from a year ago on lower revenue and higher premises costs and finance costs partly related to the UK student accommodation portfolio.

Total revenue fell 5.2% to $227.8 million after operating revenue came in 4.4% lower at $223.3 million as print advertisement revenue declined while other operating income fell 31.6% to $4.5 million.

For 1H19, earnings came in 14.7% lower at $85.6 million mainly due to the lack of investment gains as the treasury & investment portfolio was largely divested by August 2018 with the proceeds recycled to businesses to increase recurring income over time.

Revenue for the media business for 1H19 fell 10.1% to $296.2 million partly as a result of the shorter festive advertising window between Christmas and Chinese New Year. Profit was 3.8% lower at $42.1 million.

Newspaper digital ad revenue rose 15.1% compared with a year ago though. Total digital revenue which included revenue from other digital portals, circulation and online classifieds also grew 13.1%.

Revenue from the property segment was 15.3% higher at $140.3 million through acquisitions by SPH REIT and the UK student accommodation portfolio. Profit was 2.3% higher boosted by net operating income of $6.2 million from the UK student accommodation portfolio.

SPH says the property segment was responsible for two-thirds of the group’s profits, delivering a steady income stream.

Revenue from the others segment which includes the aged care and digital businesses was stable at $41.2 million.

The directors have declared an interim dividend of 5.5 cents per share which will be paid on May 24.

Ng Yat Chung, CEO of SPH, says: “Although the Media business continues to experience headwinds, revenue from the digital side of the business is showing growth. We also see improved recurring income from the Property segment which has expanded its portfolio following recent acquisitions.”

Shares in SPH closed at $2.53 on Tuesday, up 8.6% year to date.