SPH Loses $83.7 Million In 2020 As Covid-19 & Advertising Impact Heavily

Covid-19 has impacted on most industries, media being no exception. Singapore Press Holdings (SPH) is no exception, as they saw a net loss for the first time in their history in 2020, at $83.7 million.

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Just a year ago, they had a net profit of $213.2 million.

They released their full-year financial report for 2020 today (13 Oct), which show losses in property valuation, advertising, and more.

However, some properties also saw profits, while they remained profitable operationally.

Read on to find out about the dollars and cents of SPH in 2020.

Losses in investment values, advertising

SPH’s various property investments saw losses during the Covid-19 pandemic, as many of them dealt with retail as well as student accommodation.

This includes $196.5 million loss in value for its retail malls, and $31.9 million drop for student accommodation properties in the United Kingdom and Germany.

Media also saw losses of $11.4 million before taxes. However, overall revenue saw a loss of 22.8% or $131.7 million.

Newspaper advertising revenue continues to fall, this time by $99.1 million or 32.9% from 2019.

Also, daily average newspaper digital sales are rising at 52.5%.

Among the losses were retrenchment costs of $16.6 million, when 140 employees were let go in Aug.

Also read:

SPH Drops 140 Jobs After Covid-19 Impacts Ad Revenue, 5% of Media Group To Go

There was also a $122.5 million loss in advertising revenue.

Operations see profit despite losses elsewhere

Despite the losses elsewhere, operations saw a profit of $110.2 million.

This is still a loss in profits from last year though.

Also, overall property valuations may have gone down, but they still earned some profits.

Profits rose to $327.2 million from acquiring Student Castle student accommodation in the United Kingdom, and Westfield Marion Shopping Centre in Australia.

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CEO cites advertising, Covid-19 losses

SPH CEO Ng Yat Chung pointed to Covid-19 and the “collapse in advertising” as major reasons for the losses.

He noted that SPH will keep taking a “prudent and disciplined approach” to liquidity and capital management, so as to survive the Covid-19 storm.

That said, there was growth in circulation of 9.4% thanks to their News Tablet digital product, he said.

Just 3,808 staff remain as of 31 Aug, compared to 4,085 in 2019.

However, there was a mere 1.5% reduction in staff costs.

Not an easy time for companies

As companies continue to feel the effects of Covid-19, it may well be the time to adapt and find new ways to thrive.

SPH has tried this with property, but it suffered heavy losses due to the climate.

Media, which is also its primary arm, also had heavy losses, although readership is increasingly digitally. However, its legacy newspaper business will continue to see losses.

Hopefully SPH weathers the storm and finds a way to make their losses back.

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Featured image adapted from Medium.