Fairfax Media is now debt free after selling assets and is concentrating on growth in its digital assets.
Since June last year, Fairfax has reduced net debt by $234 million and has cash in the bank of $80 million.
Excluding asset sales, the company today announced a profit after tax of $93.1 million, up 12.1% compared to $83.1 million in the same period last year.
EBITDA increased 41.8 per cent to $291.1 million.
CEO Greg Hywood said:
“Fairfax finished the half with a strengthened balance sheet and net cash of $80 million. The sale of Stayz at almost 17x EBITDA was a pleasing result as this business was experiencing emerging global competition in the domestic market.”
The print side of the business is still challenged by falling advertising revenue but the digital side is growing strongly.
Advertising revenue decreased 25% in Metro Print and increased 6 per cent in Metro Digital with Domain’s online growth hitting 33%.
The media group continues its campaign to strip out costs with redundancy payments of $34 million in the six months to December.
Another $21 million is expected to be paid out before the end of the financial years.
An interim fully franked dividend of 2 cents per share will be paid on March 19.
Hywood on Metropolitan Media:
“We believe our Metropolitan Media business is making significant headway in a demanding market environment. Our focus on profitable circulation has led to a 9.6% increase in underlying circulation revenue for the half year, with digital subscriptions for The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age having commenced in July 2013, and yield improvement in print. In early February, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age had more than 116,000 paid digital subscribers, and an additional 100,000 eligible print subscribers who have signed up for digital access.”
Disclosure: Allure Media, Business Insider Australia’s publishing company, is a subsidiary of Fairfax Media.