HT&E’s ARN radio revenue surged 53% to $344.9 million in the year to December but profit suffered due to a non-cash impairment following a downturn in economic conditions.
Revenue was boosted by a full 12 months benefit from the acquisition of Grant Broadcasters and its 46 regional stations which the company says has proven to be an “outstanding investment”.
Net profit after tax was a negative $176.3 million, compared to a positive $14.9 million the previous year.
The result was dragged down by a non cash impairment charge of $249.9 million reflecting “uncertainty associated with the current macro-economic” environment.
Underlying profit was up $16.3 million.
The company declared a fully franked dividend of 5.2 cents a share.
Radio revenues are pacing near flat in the current March quarter due to a strong 2021 and reduced government spend.
HT&E trading update: “Consistent with historical radio planning, visibility into March and Q2 is short. However current briefing activity levels remain strong.”
CEO Ciaran Davis: “HT&E finished the year with the best outright ratings performance ever, a reflection of our focus on quality content to drive audiences and creating the best broadcast radio and digital audio business in Australia.
“ARN continues to hold the position as the #1 metropolitan radio network, dominating the key markets of Sydney and Melbourne, as well as delivering equally impressive results across the country.
“Our ARN Regional strategy to fiercely protect the localised nature of the individual regional station brands and the connections to the communities they serve is incredibly powerful and has paid off with improved ratings and growing revenues.
“We have created a unique position in the Australian media landscape with our commitment to local content and a recognition of the critical role we play in Australian regional communities.
“It is something we are committed to maintaining. Already strong local regional revenues are up by 7% on a pro forma basis, and importantly, the first year synergy target was delivered, with incremental revenues of $7 million, providing confidence in our ability to achieve the $20 million per annum target identified within three years of acquisition.
“The exceptional progress made during the year with the integration program is a testament to the hard work and commitment across the group and we are on-track to conclude the major components by the end of 2023.
“Our low capital expenditure digital audio strategy continues to deliver as we remained Australia’s #1 Podcast publisher reaching an average of 5.4 million monthly listeners, growing podcast listening by 40% during the year. Listening hours on digital devices grew to over 10 million a month with over 2 million signed-in users.
“This acceleration of audiences has delivered improved advertising revenues in the second half, up 28% compared to the first half of the year, and provides increased confidence for a path to profitability by the end of 2024 - earlier than anticipated.”
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