Media company HT Media Ltd, which owns the newspapers Hindustan Times and Mint, as well as online jobs classifieds business Shine.com, has reported a Net Profit of Rs. 324 million for the quarter ending June 30th 2009 (Q1-10), a 14.10 percent year on year decline from 377.2 for the same quarter last year, but 38 percent up from the quarter ending March 31st 2009 (Q4-09). The results offer some hope, when looked at from a quarter on quarter perspective, with EBITDA margins back up at 22 percent, from 16 percent in Q4-09, though sales declined on a QoQ basis by 2 percent.
The company has also said that the value of its investment in Metropolitan Media Ltd has gone down, and it has incorporated a reduction of Rs. 45 million as an exceptional item.
Circulation revenues increased by 24 percent year-on-year to Rs. 444 million from Rs. 358 million, helped by an increase in the cover price of publications, and “improved realization”.
Shobhana Bhartia,Chairperson and Editorial Director, HT Media has said that cost optimization initiatives that the company took have started yielding results: this is evident in a 4 percent decrease each in employee and raw material costs, and a QoQ reduction in advertising and sales promotion expenses from Rs. 289.6 million to Rs. 175.8 million. Overall, the company has achieved a 9 percent QoQ reduction in expenses.
Fever 104 FM, though still in the investment phase, seems to be slowly gaining momentum. Of 4 cities in which it has a presence, the FM station is ruling the roost in Mumbai and is #2 in Delhi and Bengaluru as of May 2009. It is yet to break even and could do so this fiscal.
Digital & Shine
Recruitment portal Shine.com has 2.5 million users in its database and is still building its offline-online strategy. HT Media loaned Rs. 80 million to Firefly E-Ventures and Rs. 10 million to HT Digital Media Ltd. It will continue to invest in Internet and mobile marketing segment.
Note that there’s no mention of the launch of services for the HT-Velti joint venture. The HT Media Investor Relations team had told MediaNama of plans to go live with the first campaign in June.
Taken into consideration the higher newsprint costs, the company reduced pages in all publications to reduce expenses. HT Media’s newsprint expenditure was lower by 4% from last quarter at Rs. 1129 million, but 3% higher from last fiscal. Its Hindi newspaper Hindustan is sold in eight northern states and the company plans to entrench itself in more Tier 2 towns. Mint was launched in Kolkata and Chennai. HT Burda Media, the company’s joint venture with German media group Hubert Burda for outsourced publishing is operational and is likely to break even in the first full year of its operations. HT Media also publishes two Hindi magazines Nandan and Kadambini.