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SPH Q2 profit falls 14.4% with growth limited to property

SINGAPORE Press Holdings' (SPH) net profit fell by 14.4 per cent in its second fiscal quarter, with its property arm offering the only source of growth during the period.

Net profit declined to S$69.6 million, or four Singapore cents per share, in the three months ended February as operating revenue slipped 3 per cent to S$270.3 million.

For the six months to February, net profit is down 18.3 per cent at S$139.0 million, or nine Singapore cents per share.

The media company, which owns The Business Times, is maintaining its interim dividend payout of seven Singapore cents per share.

SPH shares closed unchanged at S$4.19 on Tuesday before the results were announced.

The strongest business segment was property, which saw revenue grow by 17.2 per cent to S$60.6 million during the quarter. The bulk of the S$8.9 million growth came from The Seletar Mall, which began operations in November and gave a maiden contribution of S$8.1 million.

Revenue from the media business shrank 7.1 per cent during the quarter to S$202.8 million as both advertising and circulation sales declined.

Other businesses, which includes SPH's events arm, experienced a 21.7 per cent drop in revenue to S$6.8 million as a function of the timing of show dates.

Looking ahead, SPH said that it expects a year "fraught with challenges from an uncertain economic environment, continued softening of the advertising market and the structural issues facing the media industry".

But the company said that it expects newsprint prices to soften in the near term, and that it will maintain a "conservative stance" on its investment portfolio allocation with a focus on capital preservation.