NZME is not expecting to pay a final dividend for the 2018 financial year as it targets debt reduction in the face of declining revenue and earnings.

The Auckland based media group, publisher of the New Zealand Herald, said in a trading update it is forecasting full year earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation of $52-$56 million.

This is down on last year's $66m.

The company announced a debt reduction target of $10m-15m per year following a capital review and the board does not anticipate declaring a final dividend as a result.


NZME has refinanced its debt, with a new facility of $150m stepping down by $10m annually from January 2020. Net debt has been estimated at $100m at year end.

In October NZME paid an interim dividend of 2 cents a share, down from 3.5 cents a year earlier.

NZME said it remains focused on developing new revenue streams to offset structural decline in some advertising markets.

"After considering a number of capital management approaches to support the company's growth and long-term strategy, the board has determined to adjust its capital management policy to emphasise a reduction in gearing while maintaining investment in growth initiatives and paying dividends where trading and investment conditions permit," NZME said in a statement to the NZX.

Advertising revenue in the third quarter was down 4 per cent, in line with previous guidance. The company said bookings for the fourth quarter were currently showing an improvement on third quarter trends.

NZME has been reinvesting to find new income streams as the media industry goes through a fundamental shift where global giants such as Facebook and Google have cornered the market in online advertising.

That investment has included digital ad products such as the OneRoof property, Yudu jobs and Driven cars brands, while the company has stated its intention to launch a digital subscription model which will see it charging for premium online content.

In August NZME posted a 53 per cent decline in net profit to $3.7 million on a 3 per cent decline in revenue to $185.7 million.


NZME shares opened down 5c, or 7.69 per cent, at 60c, having closed up 4.8 per cent yesterday.