Fairfax Media books loss
AUSTRALIAN publisher Fairfax Media reported a loss of close to A$900 million (US$692 million) yesterday but remained upbeat on signs that its digital and non-print businesses were performing strongly and would turn things around.
Fairfax – which owns The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian Financial Review – booked a net loss after tax of Aus$893.5 million for the year to June 30.
This compared to a net profit of more than A$80 million in the previous corresponding period.
The media giant, like its international peers, has for years been battling declining advertising and revenues, particularly in traditional print divisions.
Chief executive Greg Hywood struck a positive note despite the loss, saying his company’s push toward digital was succeeding, with star performer the real estate-focused Domain Group reporting a 33 percent jump in revenue.
“Digital and non-print earnings now constitute more than 40pc of Fairfax’s EBITDA [underlying or operating profit],” Mr Hywood said.
“On current trends, next year this will be closer to 60pc, reflecting the continued growth in digital and nonprint earnings.”
The company’s share price fell after the announcement, dropping 5.03pc to 94 Australian cents in midday trade in Sydney.
Total revenue slipped 2pc for the period, while underlying profit came in at A132.5 million, a 7.6pc decline.
Advertising revenue in the metro media division dropped 15pc.
Fairfax, the main rival in Australia to Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp, has shed thousands of staff and restructured its operations in recent years to focus more on its digital operations.
Fairfax last week said it would book nearly A$1 billion in pre-tax impairment charges for the 2016 financial year, with a sizable chunk from major Australian metropolitan newspapers.
Fairfax Media is confident that its digital business will deliver.