TV and newsmedia company Nine Entertainment showed solid growth in its results for the 12 months to June, but a frank assessment of the investment needs of its Stan streaming unit went down indifferently with investors.
Revenue of $2.3 billion was up eight per cent, and the company reported net profit after tax of $184 million – including a “specific item” expense of $94 million – was “broadly in line” with the first half.
Chief executive Mike Sneesby reported “continued audience strength across all key platforms” – including free-to-air, 9Now, publishing, radio and Stan – and a marked recovery in ad markets. The combination of FTA and BVOD television showed earnings growth of 73 per cent on revenue growth of 12 per cent.
In his official statement, Sneesby said that while profit growth was consistent across both halves, “the drivers in each half were quite different, highlighting the strength of Nine’s mix of advertising and subscription-based assets”.
In its publishing segment – which includes the Australian Financial Review and metro dailies The Age and the Sydney Morning Herald – growth had manifested as greater audience reach and higher subscriber numbers, augmented by completion of licensing agreements with Google and Facebook, “giving us a stable, incremental revenue stream”.
Sneesby said both television and publishing businesses had reached “critical inflexion points”.
Digital subscription revenues in publishing had passed $100 million, with growth outpacing the decline in print sales. “Coupled with our ability to more fully monetise the digital distribution of our content, this will enable us to continue to both invest in Australia’s leading journalism and focus on the profitable growth of the business.”