Fairfax: profits down but Stan on track for 100 000 users

Sarah Homewood
By Sarah Homewood | 19 February 2015
Better Call Saul - to air on Stan

Fairfax Media has reported a net profit after tax of $26.3 million for the first half of the 2014/2015 financial year.

This is down from 86.4 million in the same period last year due to the publisher spending $38.3 million dollars on restructuring and redundancy charges as well as $18.3 million on asset impairment charges.

The company also announced that it would partake in an on-market buyback of its shares over the next 12 months, with the business to buy back 5% or 121 million shares.

Of the companies half-yearly announcement, chief executive Greg Hywood said there were no surprises: “For the six months to December 2014, Fairfax Media reported EBITDA of $162.4 million for continuing businesses. This result is a solid outcome. It is the result we planned for. There are no surprises.”

“During the half year we made substantial investments in our growth businesses including Domain and Events, with $25 million investment in additional operating expenses introduced into these businesses in the half year. Domain is continuing its strong growth with digital revenue up 37.8%, and revenues in our Events business were up 35% year-on-year.”

Fairfax also touted that its streaming joint venture with Nine Entertainment Co, Stan, is tracking to get 100,000 people sign up to the streaming service by mid-march.

The streaming service gained the exclusive rights to the Breaking Bad spin-off Better Call Saul, which launched earlier this month.

Hywood also explained that the Metropolitan Media publishing business recorded a 20% increase in EBITDA for the half year.

“Metro publishing costs fell 8% during the period”, Hywood said. “We are well into the process of applying the same principles that transformed the operations and performance of our Metro business to our Australian Community Media division. We now expect to deliver annualised savings of up to $60 million in Australian Community Media by FY16 – our previous target was $40 million.”

Fairfax Radio's EBIDA fell 4% compared to the corresponding period, with Hywood explaining that due to the merger between Fairfax Radio Network and Macquarie radio Network, advertisers will have the opportunity to access a genuine national talk radio network, the likes of which was previously not available to them.

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