Update: The HT Media Investor Relations team informs us that the HT-Velti joint venture has already gone live, and has done 8-10 campaigns in the first month of operation. There’s no mention which campaigns, though. HT Media has declined to comment on the revenue for Shine.com, number of resumes being added daily, number of resumes being modified daily, and the total number of clients for Shine.com. Note that jobs classifieds competitor Info Edge discloses these details.
Original Story (July 29 2009): Hardly a word on the performance of Shine.com or it’s Mobile Marketing joint venture in HT Media’s Q1 financial results or its earnings call. The only information available about Shine is that HT Media is expecting an EBITDA loss of Rs. 35 crores for its Internet business, for the full year ending March 31st 2010, and Shine.com now has more than 2.5 million registered users.
CEO Rajiv Verma said that “Online businesses have a long gestation period – it’s about building the trafic and building the brands. We need to continue to invest and build the brand. One part of the Internet business is news, the other is classifieds with jobs, and third part is mobile marketing and social networking, which is already making money.” Verma said that the Velti joint venture – in which HT Media holds 65 percent stake – should be profitable in the first year itself. Services were expected to be launched in July according to the HT Media annual report, but there was no update on that. At the end of the last quarter, MediaNama was told that the Velti JV would begin services in June 2009.
We’ve mailed a few questions to HT Media Ltd Investor Relations, and will update when we have more.
Partnership for Growth / Ads For Equity
HT Media appears to be focused on reducing its exposure to the Ads for Equity business. Verma said that “The effort is to restrict the revenue to 7-8 percent of our total revenue, so that the liquidity is not affected, and to make adequate provisions if there is diminution in value. We take stock every quarter, and at the end of the year, we take stock of what we need to provide, and at the end of the year, modify the provision. In this quarter, the non-cash ad revenue is Rs. 11 crores. Last quarter it was Rs. 19 crores”
The growth in circulation revenues and a Rs. 88 million from the merger of the Radio business was partly offset by a decline in advertising revenue, which fell from Rs. 2805 million to Rs. 2781 million. Chief Financial Strategist Vinay Mittal said that the “English ad revenue has come down by 12% year on year, on account of fall in Government advertising, with a ban on DAVP advertising during Indian Elections. Election revenue was not commensurate enough.” Mittal said that this time, the beneficiary of election advertising was electronic media, because ad agencies suggested going more national vs going local. “So print did not get that kind of Election revenue.”
The company expects DAVP revenues to return. Advertising revenue from Hindi was up 32 percent, while Mint revenues grew 24 percent. Verma said that the economy appears to be recovering, but there is a lag between confidence coming back to the economy and the companies beginning to promote their services. Key sectors like Real Estate, Travel, Finance have been lagging. IPOs not happening with the same velocity. Overall, Media has degrown by 5-7 percent.
The companys increase in revenue was primarily on account of 24% increase in circulation revenues, which are now at Rs. 444 million, up from Rs. 358 million. The cover price in Hindi was raised by 50 paise before May. In May, HT Delhi went up from Rs. 3 to Rs. 3.50. There was “better realization”, as discount packages are phased out, particularly in Mumbai.
Mint has a circulation of 1.25 lakh, which includes Chennai & Kolkata. This is up from 1.1 lakh last quarter. “Our objective is that the last quarter of this year, we should start making money, but not including new (Mint) launches. We’re talking about the investment made initially. The total loss will be halved. The new launches are not very expensive.”
Verma said that the company holds around 3 months of inventory for English – the higher price newsprint inventory. Currently, Newsprint is at $550 a ton (spot rate), and the company expects this to hold for a while, and the dollar environment to improve as well. The high newsprint inventory should run out by September.
The company declined to elaborate on the cost of redesigning Hindustan Times.