Announcement from APN
APN News & Media Limited today announced a record Profit Before Tax before Non Recurring Items (NRI) of A$94.5 million for the 6 months ended June 30 2004, up 36 per cent on the prior year.
On the same basis, Net Profit After Tax was up 34 per cent to A$57.9 million, on an increase in Group Revenue of 10 per cent to A$599.2 million, and an increase in EBIT by 20 per cent to A$125.5 million. Earnings per share were 12.2 cents, an increase of 25 per cent.
After NRIs, NPAT was up 25 per cent to a reported result of A$56 million.
The Directors have declared a 23 per cent increase in interim dividend to 8 cents per share.
APN Chief Executive Brendan Hopkins said: "This is a high quality result that is the outcome of a number of outstanding operational achievements in all five Divisions. Stripping out the effect of currency, the Group produced a 12 per cent increase in revenue, a 22 per cent increase in EBIT, a 39 per cent
increase in Profit Before Tax and a 37 per cent increase in Net Profit before Non-Recurring Items.
"Key to the result was the improved margins in our Newspaper and Radio Divisions, which together account for 90 per cent of APN's profit. By focusing on maximising the cut-through of revenue through to EBIT, we have been able to produce strong growth in operating profits.
"Our Newspaper and Radio Divisions have produced very good gains in advertising yields without sacrificing volumes, which provides a strong base
from which to continue growing our businesses. The Outdoor Division is making good progress in its restructure and is on track for he predicted improvement in performance in 2005. The Commercial Print Division has, as forecasted, delivered a solid turnaround result, increasing EBIT by 50 per cent and securing a number of new third party contracts.
"Overall, we believe this is an excellent result with good growth in revenue
producing above market expectation numbers. The second half has started
strongly and gives us confidence that our high quality businesses in high
growth markets are well positioned for continued above average growth."
New Zealand National Publishing
The New Zealand National Publishing Division was established in May 2004 and now includes:
- The New Zealand Herald, the country's largest circulating daily newspaper
- The Herald on Sunday, a new Auckland-based newspaper due to launch in 2004
- The Aucklander, a total Auckland market coverage free weekly 'newszine',
- New Zealand Magazines, which publishes The New Zealand Woman's Weekly, the most read women's magazine in New Zealand, and The New Zealand Listener, the top-rated current affairs magazine in New Zealand.
On a constant currency basis, the Division grew revenue by 11 per cent and increased EBIT by 18 per cent.
EBIT margin for the overall Division grew to 32.2 per cent.
The Auckland market remained buoyant throughout the first half and continues
to grow at above national average levels. The Herald grew employment
advertising by 23 per cent over the same period in 2003 as unemployment in New Zealand remains at 17-year lows. The Auckland property market also produced good growth, with Herald real estate advertising revenue up by 14 per cent over the prior year.
Circulation for The New Zealand Herald remained steady and readership figures
continued to grow, with 75 per cent of Aucklanders aged 15+ now reading a copy of The Herald each week. Total readership now exceeds 1 million people every week.
The Aucklander, launched in September 2003, performed ahead of expectations
with strong reader and retail advertising support. The Listener and The New
Zealand Woman's Weekly magazines both grew subscription levels in the first
In July, APN announced the launch of the Herald on Sunday, an
Auckland-focused newspaper that will extend The Herald's franchise to seven
days a week. As previously announced, the Company expects the Herald on
Sunday to become profitable within 3 years, based on a circulation of 100,000
copies, leveraging The Herald's existing infrastructure in production,
prepress, advertising and editorial systems, distribution, financial services
APN's 23 regional daily newspapers and more than 90 non-daily titles
continued to trade well in the first half. On a constant currency basis,
revenue increased by 11 per cent and EBIT by 25 per cent.
APN's regional markets in both Australia and New Zealand continue to show
The main advertising pillars of employment, real estate and motoring produced
strong increases in both markets. Employment advertising in particular
performed well, growing by 36 per cent in Australia and 30 per cent in New Zealand over the prior year. A strategy to introduce a unified employment section across APN's main Australian titles - the 'Recruitment Superhighway' - has been well received by readers and advertisers. New non-daily products were introduced in the high growth southern Gold Coast and south-western Brisbane areas, leveraging existing infrastructure at APN daily newspapers in Ipswich and
Circulation in APN's Australian newspapers was up 1.3 per cent in the audit survey for the six months to June - the ninth consecutive quarterly circulation
increase for the Group. APN now publishes the four fastest growing daily
newspapers in Australia: The Sunshine Coast Daily (+4.2 per cent), the Fraser Coast Chronicle (+4.1 per cent), the Gympie Times (+3.3 per cent) and the Gladstone Observer (+2.8 per cent).
APN announces today a A$25 million upgrade to newspaper printing facilities
on the Sunshine Coast, with the development of a new 'greenfield' site at
Yandina. A new press, which is due to be commissioned by February 2006, will
have capacity for 80 pages of back-to-back colour and online stitching
capability. The development is additional to a A$14 million pre-press system
upgrade that is currently being rolled out across APN's Australian regional
The Radio Division's focus on yield, inventory and rate management produced a
strong outcome. On a constant currency basis revenue increased 15 per cent and EBIT increased 23 per cent.
In Australia, the Australian Radio Network (ARN) continued to reap the
benefit of good ratings results by growing market share of agency advertising
in the first half. Revenue increased by 19 per cent to A$61.4 million and EBIT was up 24 per cent to A$17 million. PricewaterhouseCoopers survey figures to June 2004 show that ARN has increased agency market share year-on-year every month since August 2002. Combined with its ongoing market leading position in direct advertising, ARN is well placed to continue profit growth into the second half.
In New Zealand, The Radio Network (TRN) launched two new stations following the $9.5 million acquisition of new licences in late 2003. Existing
networks were extended into new markets, including ZM into Wanganui and
Kapiti and Easy Listening I into Rotorua. TRN now operates eight networks
across the country. TRN grew revenue by 7 per cent to A$49.7 million and increased EBIT by 17 per cent to A$9.1 million. On a constant currency basis, revenue grew 10 per cent and EBIT by 20 per cent.
The restructure of APN's outdoor advertising businesses into a unified
structure made significant progress in the first half. While revenue grew by
18 per cent to A$104.5 million, a number of uneconomic contracts restricted EBIT growth to 2 per cent, totalling A$9.3 million. Uneconomic sites continue to be rationalised and APN Outdoor is committed to its investment in growth
markets. The New Zealand street furniture build-out continues, with 2700
panels now installed nationally. Buspak Hong Kong secured a key transit
advertising contract and in Malaysia, the Kurnia supersite business continued
development of high quality sites on the Sprint Freeway. The Outdoor Division
remains on track for the forecasted 2005 improvement.
Print & Specialist Publishing
As forecasted, the Commercial Print Division delivered a turnaround result
for the first half of 2004, increasing EBIT by 50 per cent to A$3.9 million, despite a reduction in revenue by 6 per cent to A$50.2 million. The year-on-year revenue comparables were affected by the sale of the Security Print business in 2003.
A number of new print contracts were won and installation has begun on an
updated web press in Manukau to handle long-run magazine and catalogue
As part of an ongoing process to broaden the expertise on the APN Board, Mr
Gavin O'Reilly will be invited to join the Company as a non-executive
Director. Mr O'Reilly is Chief Operating Officer of Independent News & Media
PLC and is a Director of iTouch PLC.
Dividend Reinvestment Plan
The Board has reviewed the Dividend Reinvestment Plan and has decided to
discontinue the 2.5 per cent discount, effective from the final dividend for 2004,
payable in the First Half of 2005. The DRP discount will continue unchanged
for the 8 cent dividend announced today.
Dual Primary Listing
On June 21 2004 APN listed on the New Zealand Exchange as a dual primary
listing. The NZX has since announced that APN is likely to be included in the
NZX-50 index in two tranches during the fourth quarter this year, ranking it
in the top 20 New Zealand companies.
Annual General Meeting
The Board has decided to hold the next Annual General Meeting of the Company in Sydney. This follows the notification in July that the Company had
transferred its registered office to Sydney.
APN Chief Executive Brendan Hopkins said: "The first seven weeks of the
Second Half have seen a continuation of strong double digit EBIT growth.
While it may be challenging to maintain a similar growth rate through to the
year-end, EBIT growth remains above expectation as we approach the Fourth
Quarter, which is traditionally APN's most profitable Quarter.
"Providing current market conditions continue, the Company now believes it
will better the forecast Net Profit after Tax for 2004 of A$120 million,
after expensing the expected trading losses of the Herald on Sunday."
The interim dividend of 8.0 cents per share will be franked as to 30 per cent and is payable on 28 September 2004. Registrable transfers received by the Company up to the close of business on 14 September 2004 will be registered before entitlements to dividends are determined. Books will close on 14 September 2004. Shareholders wishing to participate in the Dividend Reinvestment Plan (the current rate of discount of which is 2.5 per cent) who have not already lodged their election must do so on or before 14 September 2004 in order to participate.
A full copy of Appendix 4D can be requested from email@example.com.
Announcement from APN