HT Media has reported a net profit of just Rs. 7.82 crores for the third quarter (Q309) of the 2008-09 fiscal (FY09), down 51.97% from the previous quarter. Sales were flat – growing just 0.94% quarter on quarter, and by around 4.32% year on year. EBITDA margins decreased to 15% from 21%. The company says that the results reflect the downturn in the market and higher costs – higher newsprint prices, adverse foreign currency movements and lower advertising. On the newspaper front, the cover price of their Hindi daily Hindustan has been increased, starting December 2008; Mint claims an average issue readership of 1.4 lakhs, and the number two business daily tag in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru.
During the quarter, HT Media invested Rs. 2.39 crores in HT Burda Media Ltd, as well as an advance issue of Rs. 80 lakhs against issue of shares.
Firefly, Velti and Shine.com
During the quarter, HT Media pumped in Rs. 14.5 crores into Firefly E-Ventures, their Internet and mobile subsidiary. HT Media tied up with Velti PLC (our coverage here) for mobile advertising and marketing services. The JV is expected to launch services by the end of FY 2009. Remember that they put in Rs. 13.5 crores last quarter, and the total investment in Firefly e-Ventures now stands at Rs. 33 crores. This does not include the Rs. 3 crores loan the company was given in Q1.
Consultancy Costs HT Media Dear
One significant reason for the decline in HT Media’s profitability is the payment of Rs. 7.53 crores made towards consultancy for strategic plans for new areas of business.
Metropolitan Media Pvt Ltd
HT Media also invested Rs. 9 crores in Metropolitan Media, their 50:50 JV with arch rival the Times of India group. What should make for an interesting discussion on the HT Media Earnings conference call is the fact that Metro Now the daily from Metropolitan Media is switching to a weekly format. Multiple sources have informed MediaNama about this, and PressTalk has written about its impending demise over the past week or so. We’re told that the company will retain some of their editorial staff. Metro Now was launched on February 5th 2007, to counter the India Today groups entry into the newspaper space with Today. Exchange4media adds, quoting sources, that the Gurgaon weekly would hit the stands on January 24, 2009, and the last daily edition of Metro Now would be on January 21, 2009.