A hot property market has helped a surge in digital advertising at Fairfax

Greg Hywood. Photo: Getty

Fairfax Media, which has been restructuring for a digital world, has seen a surge in revenue for both digital and print advertising coming from a hot property market.

At Domain, the online classified property site, digital revenue grew 37% to $99.1 million and print advertising was up 148% to $54.8 million.

CEO Greg Hywood called it a standout performance.

Visits to the Domain site grew to 39.9 million in November from 18.1 million at the start of 2015. Average daily unique browsers on the main and mobile site doubled to around 600,000, compared to the same six months the year before.

Across the Fairfax group, statutory profit at grew 4.2% in the first half to $27.4 million on a 1.6% rise in revenue to $958.1 million. However, underlying net profit after tax was down 2.2% to $79.8 million.

Cost cutting and efficiencies drove group publishing costs down by 6%, or about $38 million.

“We have made it clear many times that we are managing a structural shift in publishing from print to digital,” Hywood says.

“We continue to adapt our business model to this reality, which involves an intense focus on cost reduction and the creation of new revenue opportunities. This will inevitably mean an even stronger emphasis on digital publishing. We are ready to meet this significant opportunity as consumer preferences demand.”

Revenue at the Digital Ventures portfolio, containing Fairfax’s investments in new businesses, was up 22% to $17.3 million. EBIT (earnings before interest and taxes) was up 84.1% to $4.1 million.

Digital subscriptions at Fairfax’s newspapers grew of 14.3% but this was largely offset by modest declines in print circulation. Revenue from circulation was down 1.3% to $113.8 million.

Adverting revenue at metropolitan media, which includes Domain, was up 15.6% to 287.3 million.

In the first seven weeks of 2016, Fairfax group revenue was 1% to 2% below last year. Hywood called this a solid performance in the context of continued weak print trends.

However, Domain.com.au continued to perform strongly with organic revenue growth of 25%.

“Our focus in the second half is on continuing Domain’s strong growth, driving our emerging businesses, and delivering on our cost reduction programs.,” Hywood says.

An interim dividend of 2 cents per share, 50% franked, was declared.

(Disclosure: Allure Media, the publisher of Business Insider, is 100% owned by Fairfax Media.)

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