- Turnover: $1,375 million
- Recurring operating profit: $264 million
- Operating profit: $363 million
- Net profit: $317 million
- Earnings per share: HK 20.32 cents
- Final dividend distribution per share: HK 7 cents
- Special dividend distribution per share: HK 3 cents
- Total dividend distribution per share for the year: HK 15 cents
(Hong Kong, April 1, 2005) – SCMP Group Limited (SEHK: 583) ("the Group") announced today its final results for the year ended December 31, 2004.
Profit attributable to shareholders was $317 million or HK 20.32 cents per share on turnover of $1,375 million. The operating results of the newspaper publishing business improved significantly. A gain of $77 million from the sale of its retailing business and a revaluation surplus of $ 18 million further boosted operating profit.
Operating costs and expenses rose by 1% because of higher newsprint expense, advertising and promotion spending, and depreciation charges which were partly offset by lower cost of sales and savings on rent. Average newsprint cost per metric ton increased 13% from US$420 in 2003 to US$476 in 2004. Newsprint consumption increased 16% due to higher ad volume and circulation sales. The Group spent more on advertising and promotions to drive circulation and advertising and to launch the Hong Kong edition of Maxim. Staff costs were flat. The Group had 1,035 employees as of 31 December 2004.
The Board of Directors declared a final dividend of HK 7 cents per share and a special dividend of HK 3 cents per share. The dividend is payable on 26 May 2005 to shareholders of record on 24 May 2005.
The newspaper publishing business accounted for 67% of the operating profit and 90% of the recurring operating profit of the Group. Unaudited second half 2004 circulation figures for South China Morning Post and Sunday Morning Post were 101,782 and 82,208, respectively representing an increase of 6% and 8%, respectively compared with the same period in 2003. Display and recruitment ad revenues increased 23% and 51%, respectively. The strong growth in recruitment ads reflects a full recovery from Sars which weakened the market in 2003.
The economic recovery in 2004 also led to improved results for existing magazine titles. Advertising revenues increased across all titles but operating profit declined after taking into account an operating loss for Maxim which was launched in April 2004.
In November 2004, the Group completed the sale of its retailing assets which constituted the Daily Stop chain of convenience stores. The Group realised a gain of $77 million from the sale. The net proceeds from the sale will be distributed as a special dividend to shareholders.
Capital expenditures in 2004 were $38 million, of which $15 million was invested in new advertising and circulation systems. The Group is investing in four new presses which will be commissioned in late 2005. The estimated cost of the new presses is $93 million of which $9 million was paid in 2004, $80 million will be paid in 2005 and $4 million in 2006.
The prospects in 2005 are positive although the Group expects its publishing businesses to grow at a slower pace than in 2004, which started from a very low base. Ad spending is expected to continue to grow in 2005 fuelled by stable economic growth and strong consumer confidence.
About South China Morning Post Publishers Limited
SCMP Group Limited, through various operating subsidiaries, publishes South China Morning Post and Sunday Morning Post, Hong Kong’s leading English language newspapers, SCMP.com and the Chinese editions of Cosmopolitan, Harper’s Bazaar, CosmoGirl!, Maxim and Automobile. In addition, the Group has investments in other publishing-related businesses and properties.
For media enquiry, please contact:
Marketing and Communications
SCMP Group Limited
Tel: (852) 2565 2415
Fax: (852) 2565 2429