Fairfax half year profit plummets to $26.3m with publisher announcing share buyback

Fairfax1Fairfax Media has reported significant fall in revenues and net profit for the first half of the 2015 financial year, and has signalled it will undertake a share buyback that will see the publisher purchase up to 5 per cent over the next 12 months.

Today the publisher of newspapers including The Age and Sydney Morning Herald recorded a net profit after tax of $26.3m, well down on last year’s half yearly result of $86.4m with the numbers driven down by significant items including $38.3m in restructuring and redundancy charges, and $18.3m in asset impairment charges.

The company’s EBITDA – earning before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation – was down 8.7 per cent at $162.4m, while revenue was down 12.9 per cent to $943.3m from over $1bn a year ago.

In a statement, CEO Greg Hywood trumpeted investments being made in its Domain and events businesses saying: “This result is a solid outcome. It is the result that we had planned for. There are no surprises.

“During the half year we made substantial investments in our growth businesses including Domain and Events, with $25m investment in additional operating expenses introduced into these businesses in the half year.”

Within Fairfax’s Metropolitan Media business revenues and earning remained relatively stable, while figures show Domain remains a major growth centre with a 27.2 per cent increase it revenues to $94.5m while the division’s EBITDA was at $37.8m, up 21.7 per cent.

The company has moved to strengthen its hand in the real estate market by purchasing the remainder of Metro Media Publishing in January, and announcing a new business last week to build on that model nationwide.

Australian Community Media, the group’s regional, community and agriculture assets, was one of the worst performers with total revenue down 7.4 per cent to $256.5m, while EBITA fell 28.1 per cent to $46.9m.

Fairfax Radio assets were down in revenue 1.5 per cent to $53.7m, with earnings down with an $8.8m EBITA ahead of the looming merger with Macquarie Radio.

The Fairfax (FXJ) buyback will see the company buy up to 121m shares, on market, commencing on March 23.

Nic Christensen 


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