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Seven West cops profit hit as ad sales plunge

Emma Rapaport with AAP  |  19 Feb 2019Text size  Decrease  Increase  |  
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Stringent cost-saving measures failed to offset Seven West Media's fall in advertising revenue as the free-to-air television broadcaster booked a 13.8 per cent in half-year net profit and reduced its earnings forecast.

Net profit came in at $86.2 million for the six months ended 30 December, compared to $100 million a year ago.

Revenue for the six months to December 2018 fell 1.5 per cent to $797.4 million. Advertising revenue, which accounts for a majority of its revenue, fell 3.2 per cent to $595.2 million during the period.

Seven West Media Result

Morningstar believes Seven West Media management can cut costs further

Half-yearly printing and digital advertising revenue slumped 11.6 per cent.

Morningstar senior equity analyst Brian Han said the result was disappointing across the board – so much so that Seven West had to downgrade its earnings before interest and taxes target to between zero to five per cent for the full year. In August, the company forecast growth between 5 to 10 per cent.

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Han adds Seven West (ASX: SWM) will have to cut costs further to reach the revised target – "which goes to show just how challenging the revenue environment is".

Like other broadcasters and newspapers around the world, Australia's traditional media companies are fighting an uphill battle to cut costs, diversify revenue sources and increase content offerings as advertisers flock to online giants for exposure.

Seven West, which has aggressively manoeuvred to reduce debt through a string of measures, including freezing dividends last year, increased its FY19 cost reduction target to between $20 million and $40 million. Previously the target was between $20 million and $30 million.

There was some good news for Seven West in its ratings and revenue share of the TV ad market, which is improving off the back of strong viewership of Seven's cricket coverage and cooking gameshow My Kitchen Rules.

Seven West increased its share of the metropolitan TV revenue market by 38.4 per cent in the first half, up from 36.4 per cent in the first-half of fiscal-2018.

Han says he believes management will find areas in which it can cut costs.

"Downgrading guidance is never a good thing, but I believe these Seven West's issues are short term and that it is worth a lot more than its trading at," he said.

Seven West did not declare a dividend for the period and said that dividend payments remained suspended.

At midday, Seven West was down by almost 9 per cent at $0.52.

• Net profit down 13.8pc to $86.2m
• Revenue down 1.5pc, including 3.2pc ad revenue slump to $595.2m
• No interim dividend declared

. Emma Rapaport is a reporter for Morningstar Australia.

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