Domain strong performer for Fairfax; publisher reveals half-year results

Sarah Homewood
By Sarah Homewood | 19 February 2016

Fairfax Media has today revealed its results for the half-year to December 2015, with the publisher recording “solid” results according to its CEO.

Greg Hywood told the ASX this morning that the results are a testament to the “unrelenting efforts” by everyone in the company to drive the performance of the business.

“Our strategy of confronting the change occurring in the media industry head on underpins this result,” he says.

“Our diversified portfolio of businesses delivered a pleasing 2.8% increase in group revenue to $958 million for continuing operations. We are very encouraged with the 20% growth in group digital revenue.”

The publisher recorded a net profit of $79.8 million, which is down 2.2%, returning earnings per share of 3.4 cents. Fairfax's revenue hit $958.1 million, which is up 1.6% from the prior corresponding period.

The publisher's real estate arm, Domain, was a strong performer with the business seeing a 74% increase in EBITDA.

“The Domain businesses saw digital advertising revenue growth of 37%, and revenue grew by 38%, an acceleration from 30% in FY15,” Hywood added.

It wasn't so sunny on the print side of the street however, with print advertising revenue falling 14%, however digital subscription revenue grew by the same amount.

Hywood also noted that: “Our continued focus on cost reduction and efficiency in our publishing businesses drove group publishing costs down by 6% – that’s $38 million.”

“We have made it clear many times that we are managing a structural shift in publishing from print to digital. We continue to adapt our business model to this reality, which involves as intense focus on cost reduction and the creation of new revenue opportunities. We have managed it well over recent years and we have absolute confidence we will continue to manage it in the future,” he says.

The results come just days after the publisher announced it has started a consultation on the introduction of a new metro editorial structure, for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age, that allows it to better deliver its digital news and newspapers.

The new structure is said to simplify newsroom work flows, and allows reporters and editors more autonomy to better manage their workloads and create content that meet the 24/7 demands of its audiences.

The move however saw long-standing Age editor, Andrew Holden, depart the business.

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