The Straits TimesIf you’ve ever flicked through a copy of The Straits Times, The Business Times, Lianhe Zaobao, Berita Harian, Tabla! or Tamil Murasu you’ve experienced the work of Singapore Press Holdings Limited (SPH) (SGX: T39).

Indeed, the Singapore based media company publishes, prints and distributes in total 18 newspapers in four languages.

And that’s just the newspapers. The company is also responsible for publishing books, periodicals and 100 magazines, including popular titles such as Her World, Home and Decor, Cleo, Marie Claire and HWM. It also publishes Harpers BAZAAR and Cosmopolitan in Singapore and Malaysia with Hearst Magazines International.

SPH even has an events arm – Sphere Exhibits, which organises exhibitions, conferences and trade and consumer events.

But did you know…

  1. The English flagship newspaper of SPH, namely The Straits Times was launched way back in 1845 – and with a daily average circulation of 389,700, it’s the most read newspaper in Singapore.
  2. SPH has a 20% stake in MediaCorp TV Holdings Pte Ltd, best known for operating free-to-air TV channels including Channel 5 and Channel 8, plus a 40% stake in MediaCorp Press Ltd (which publishes the free newspaper Today).
  3. SPH also has an 80 per cent stake in SPH UnionWorks Pte Ltd, which operates radio stations UFM 100.3 in Mandarin, as well as Kiss92 and HOT FM91.3 in English.
  4. The publishing company also owns and manages office complex / glitzy shopping mall Paragon, The Clementi Mall, and Sky@eleven, a residential condominium. It’s latest development – The Seletar Mall is due to be completed next year.
  5. On average, it’s reckoned 76% of people aged 15 or over read one of SPH’s news publications every day.

Digital Media

But times are changing, and SPH has had to move with them. It now also offers Internet editions of its newspapers, as well as digital tablet magazines, which can be purchased through Apple’s App Store and Google Play. Indeed, Internet editions of SPH newspapers are reckoned to enjoy over 270 million page views with 18 million unique visitors every month.

SPH’s half-year profits revealed a slide of 10.5%, with its worst performers being its book publishing and exhibitions businesses.

Its newspaper and magazine business, which accounted for nearly 81% of its revenue also disappointed, with profits dropping by 8.1%.

But interestingly, while newspapers The Straits Times and The Sunday Times saw a drop in print circulation, their overall circulation increased – due to more readers turning to digital formats. Indeed, it will be interesting to see how SPH will evolve to meet our changing requirements for digital and print media.

Property faring well

Finally, on the bright side, with 100% occupancy of both Paragon and The Clementi Mall, SPH’s property business fared better, seeing a rise in profits of 5.4% to S$50.5m.

And with talk of SPH creating a spin-off, in the form of a Real Estate Investment Trust (REIT) to hold a portfolio of its properties, many investors will be keeping a close eye on SPH for a while yet.

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The information provided is for general information purposes only and is not intended to be personalised investment or financial advice. Motley Fool Singapore contributor Alison Hunt doesn’t own shares in any companies mentioned.  

 

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