Media company HT Media Ltd, which owns the newspapers Hindustan Times, Hindustan and Mint, as well as online jobs classifieds business Shine.com and radio station Fever 104 FM, has reported a Net Profit of Rs. 184.2 million in the quarter ended December 2009, more than double that recorded in December 2008 though total income was lower 3% year on year at Rs. 3269.8 million. The net income margin rose to 10% during the quarter.
Comparatively, in the September quarter, the company had seen a 92% increase in net profits and revenues had risen 4%. The company reduced raw material spend resulted in the control of expenditure over the year. Its overall consolidated EBITDA margins have increased from 8% at Rs. 268 million to 21% at Rs. 764 million. Employee costs increased by 3% to Rs. 512.2 million in the December 2009 quarter.
The company has a net debt of Rs. 684 million as of 31 December 2009.
Circulation & Ad Revenues Up
Circulation revenues grew by 30% to Rs. 508 million with increase in the cover prices from Q1 FY2010, as well as improved realisations and increase in number of copies circulated. Advertising revenues also rose to Rs. 2855 million from Rs. 2780 million.
Hindi Business Demerged, Consolidation Opportunities
HT Media has sold its Hindi daily Hindustan as well as two Hindi magazines Nandan (a children’s magazine) and Kadambini (a socio-cultural mag) to its subsidiary Hindustan Media Ventures on a slump sale with effect from December 2009. The sale amounted to Rs. 1431.8 million and was comprised of Rs.1253.4 million in fixed assets and Rs. 178.39 million in working capital. Hindustan Media Ventures is a 99.27% subsidiary of HT Media.
The demerger will allow the business to be benchmarked with others in the markets – such as Dainik Jagran, Dainik Bhaskar (which recently went public very successfully) and Sakal Times. It plans to pursue “consolidation opportunities” in the regional media space.
Growth & Readership Of Hindi Publications
Its Hindi print publications have been growing – revenues rose 15% to Rs. 1026 million and EBITA margin was at 16% compared to 9% in December 2008.
Hindustan, the company claims, is the fastest growing Hindi newspaper in Uttar Pradesh and hence the company plans to further strengthen its presence in Western UP with a printing facility it commissioned during the quarter in Agra. It also plans to add another facility in an undisclosed location.
The newspaper holds a readership share of 75% and 50% in Bihar and Jharkhand in June 2009, as per the Indian Readership Survey R2, 2009. The regional daily had 9.33 million readers as of June 2009.
Digital Media Investments
During the quarter, HT Media invested Rs.193.8 million in its joint venture with German media company Hubert Burda Media for outsourced publishing called HT Burda Media Ltd which became operational in July 2009 and has not yet broken even. It also spent Rs. 195.99 million in the holding company for its digital businesses HT Digital Media Holdings though the issue of compulsorily convertible debentures. HT Digital Media Holdings co-ordinates the joint venture with Velti PLC and Firefly e-Ventures which manages Shine.com, Desimartini.com and sales for all of HTs digital properties.
Meanwhile, registrations at job portal Shine.com, a part of Firefly eVentures, grew to 3.5 million from 3 million registrations in September. Firefly also runs social networking platform Desimartini.com. Besides these, HT Media has a tie-up with Velti Inc for a mobile marketing company.
Metro Now, the weekly tabloid HT Media set up in cohorts with BCCL, has been suffering losses and has been temporarily shut down, the company has announced. A goodwill of Rs. 1 million has been impaired, and deferred tax assets worth Rs. 39 million have been written off.
Hindustan Times has experienced a marginal decrease in readership to 3.35 million by June 2009, as per the Indian Readership Survey R2, 2009 that was released in November 2009.
Mint, the company claims, retains the No.2 rank amongst business dailies in India and has a 25% readership share in the six markets it covers but its readership declined to 0.157 million by June 2009 in Delhi, Mumbai and Bengaluru.
Increased advertising led to revenues from its radio subsidiary Fever 104 FM rising from Rs. 67 million to Rs. 101 million.