Jagran Prakashan, DB Corp and HT Media Q2 results out

Rising newsprint costs – slower recovery in ad revenues

Companies reported loss due to newsprint cost (Unsplash)

The three leading Indian print media houses that are listed on the stock exchange, Jagran Prakashan, DB Corp, and HT Media, have announced their results for the second quarter of the present financial year 2022-23. In H1, ending in September 2022 revenues grew for all three, while profits dropped for Jagran Prakashan on the back of rising input costs, including newsprint, but rose for DB Corp in the second quarter. HT Media also reported a loss, primarily because of newsprint costs.

Jagran Prakashan, the Kanpur-headquartered media house that owns the flagship Hindi daily Dainik Jagran present in 11 states, the Mumbai-based tabloid Midday, Radio City 91.1 FM, and several other print and digital products, reported a 12.8% increase in its consolidated revenue for Q2 at Rs 454.16 crore, up from Rs 402.53 crore in the same quarter of the previous financial year. 

Consolidated advertisement revenue from print, digital, and radio was up 10.4% to Rs 317.69 crore from Rs 287.73 crore in the same period, the company said in a press release.

Expenses, however, jumped 22% to Rs 368 crore in Q2 this year from Rs 301 crore in the previous fiscal’s Q2 due to a steep increase in newsprint prices. The operating profits dropped 15% to Rs 86 crore from Rs 101.37 crore, Exchange4Media reported. Net profit dropped 17% to Rs 50.62 crore against Rs 60.89 crore, the press release said.

Print ad revenue, on the other hand, was up 10% to Rs 254 crore from Rs 232 crore. Circulation revenue was up by 5.4% to Rs 92.62 crore from Rs 87.83 crore. Revenue from the radio business increased 16% to Rs 48.6 crore from Rs 42 crore. The digital revenue grew 14.4% to Rs 20.77 crore from Rs 18.15 crore.

Mahendra Mohan Gupta, chairman and managing director, Jagran Prakashan said the newspaper publishers are bearing the brunt of a steep increase in newsprint prices and advertising revenue is taking more than expected time to reach the pre-pandemic levels.

“However, the company registered double-digit growth in revenues on the strength of its brands and strong market position but fell short of desired profits owing to an exceptional increase in cost despite continued cost-control measures. All businesses – print, radio, outdoor, event, and digital posted growth in revenues, and some of them have exceeded the pre-pandemic revenues,” Gupta said in a statement.

DB Corp H1 shows net profit rising by 153%

For the Bhopal-headquartered DB Corp, which publishes Dainik Bhaskar, Divya Bhaskar, Divya Marathi, and Saurashtra Samachar, ad revenue up was 51% year on year in H1 FY2023 and net profit grew 153% to Rs 79.8 crore.

If one takes into account Q2 of FY2023, advertising revenue grew by 26% to Rs 381.2 crore as against Rs 302.9 crore in Q2 of the previous financial year.

Circulation revenue stood at Rs 115.6 crore as against Rs 115.9 crore. Total revenue grew by 21% at Rs 546.1 crore as against Rs 451.3 crore in the same period.

EBITDA stood at Rs. 97.7 crore as against Rs 105.4 crore considering a forex loss of Rs 2.5 crore, although aided by stringent cost control measures, and despite high newsprint prices and larger digital business investment for future growth, the company press release said. The net profit of the group stood at Rs 48.8 crore in Q2 this fiscal as against Rs 53.8 crore in the last fiscal.

In H1, DB Corp radio business, the ad revenue grew by 18% YOY to Rs 34 crore. EBITDA grew by 22% to Rs 10.6 crore (EBITDA margin at 31%) versus Rs 8.7 crore.

“The Dainik Bhaskar Group reports yet another quarter of strong results driven by a robust revival of economic sentiment in the markets that it operates in and on the back of well-established editorial prowess and proven circulation strategy. The omnichannel approach to reach readers, innovations in print through special editions as well as renewed vigor to deepen and expand its leadership position in key markets have yielded positive results,” a company statement said.

The credibility of print media has caused a shift in the focus of advertisers from new age media back to traditional media like print and The Dainik Bhaskar Group has been a beneficiary of this shift as it offers clear advantages to the advertisers, it said.

Sudhir Agarwal, managing director of DB Corp, said, “While the last six months have been news-heavy with major geo-political events dotting the landscape, the Indian economy with its large consumer base and growing manufacturing sector has shown signs of resilience and revival. Our industry has been a beneficiary of this momentum and Dainik Bhaskar has led the way not only in financial results but also for furthering the reversion-to-print trend which is being witnessed amid the digitization of media.”

Jagran Prakashan, DB Corp, and HT Media, have announced their results for the second quarter of the present financial year 2022-23

HT Media reports net loss in H1

Delhi-based HT Media, home to newspapers Hindustan Times, Dainik Hindustan, and business daily Mint, and radio channels Radio One, Fever, and Radio Nasha, on the other hand, was in the red, reporting a net loss of Rs 167.75 crore for Q2 of 202-2023 against a profit of Rs 29.91 crore in the same quarter last year.

The company recorded a consolidated revenue of Rs 448 crore in Q2 FY23, up 2% on a year-on-year basis, led by growth in its print and radio businesses. The revenue was Rs 440 crore in the same quarter last year.

The ad revenue for the print business was up by 9% to Rs 269 crore as compared to Rs 247 crore in the same quarter last year. Circulation revenue was up by 21% to Rs 61 crore against Rs 50 crore. “Ad revenue improved on y-o-y and on a sequential basis, led by growth in volume for both English and Hindi. While circulation revenue too reported growth led by an increase in realization per copy for both English and Hindi,” the company said in a statement.

Radio’s operating revenue saw a growth of 36% to Rs 33 crore against Rs 24 crore in Q2 FY22. Operating EBITDA showed considerable improvement over the same quarter last year and consistently reported operating profit over the last few quarters.

The company’s digital operating revenue witnessed a de-growth of 4% to Rs 32 crore against Rs 33 crore in Q2 FY22. “Digital revenue impacted this quarter and therefore EBITDA at a marginal loss.”

News agency PTI quoted Shobhana Bhartia, chairperson and editorial director, of HT Media and Hindustan Media Ventures, as saying, “The second quarter of the current fiscal saw a fairly conducive business environment. However, inflationary pressures continued in the form of elevated input costs, arising largely from geopolitical factors.”

Bhartia said the print business continues to show revenue growth on the back of an increase in both advertising and circulation revenue but profitability was significantly impacted by elevated newsprint rates. “We are seeing signs of pressure easing on this front, although the benefit of this will flow only in later quarters. In the near term, the festive season provides further growth opportunities across business verticals as retail and commercial activity picks up in the ongoing quarter.”

The Covid-19 pandemic led to the country-wide lockdown on 25 March 2020. It will be two years tomorrow as I write this. What have we learned in this time? Maybe the meaning of resilience since small companies like us have had to rely on our resources and the forbearance of our employees as we have struggled to produce our trade platforms.

The print and packaging industries have been fortunate, although the commercial printing industry is still to recover. We have learned more about the digital transformation that affects commercial printing and packaging. Ultimately digital will help print grow in a country where we are still far behind in our paper and print consumption and where digital is a leapfrog technology that will only increase the demand for print in the foreseeable future.

Web analytics show that we now have readership in North America and Europe amongst the 90 countries where our five platforms reach. Our traffic which more than doubled in 2020, has at times gone up by another 50% in 2021. And advertising which had fallen to pieces in 2020 and 2021, has started its return since January 2022.

As the economy approaches real growth with unevenness and shortages a given, we are looking forward to the PrintPack India exhibition in Greater Noida. We are again appointed to produce the Show Daily on all five days of the show from 26 to 30 May 2022.

It is the right time to support our high-impact reporting and authoritative and technical information with some of the best correspondents in the industry. Readers can power Indian Printer and Publisher’s balanced industry journalism and help sustain us by subscribing.

– Naresh Khanna

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