The five Indian newspaper groups listed on the stock market

Three out of five companies demonstrate resilience and strong recovery

Revenue from operations of 5 listed groups in selected financial year. The figures in the center represent the combined revenue of the five news groups in Rs. Crore. The outer circle represents each groups contribution in percentage to their combined turnover in that year. While the combined revenue for these five listed news groups was the highest in FY 2018-19, their current recovery in FY 2022-23 is still approximately Rs 1,292 crore short of their previous combined highest figure

For the five news media groups listed in the Indian stock market, we are able to look at results including the financial year 2022-23 ending 31 March 2023. These groups include DB Corp, Hindustan Media Ventures, HT Media, Jagran Prakashan, and Sandesh. Even though two of these five companies (Hindustan Media Ventures and HT Media) have shown losses for FY 2022-23 and one (HT Media) has incurred losses over the past five financial years, their combined results are better than the overall sample of 35 newspaper groups that includes these five as well. The revenue recovery of these five companies is higher in comparison to our larger sample and the overall industry – again indicating that the recovery is generally stronger amongst the larger newspaper groups.

The other three companies DB Corp, Jagran Media, and Sandesh remained profitable throughout the nine years for which we have assembled the data with EBITDA as a percentage of net sales generally above 22.5% and generally, in most years much higher. DB Corp’s Ebitda to net sales ratio has been lower than 20% in the past two years. The smallest company in this cohort has always maintained an Ebitda to net sales ratio above 31%, which dipped in the two pre-pandemic years FY 2018-19 and FY 2019-20 to 27.79% and 24.4% respectively. In the pandemic year FY 2020-21, Sandesh’s Ebitda to net sales ratio was its highest ever at 54.36%, which has subsequently declined to 48.13% and 41.27% in the just-ended financial year. Well-run Indian-language newspapers remain profitable.

Financial indicators of 5 Indian newspaper groups. Photo IPPStar

2023 promises an interesting ride for print in India

Indian Printer and Publisher founded in 1979 is the oldest B2B trade publication in the multi-platform and multi-channel IPPGroup. While the print and packaging industries have been resilient in the past 33 months since the pandemic lockdown of 25 March 2020, the commercial printing and newspaper industries have yet to recover their pre-Covid trajectory.

The fragmented commercial printing industry faces substantial challenges as does the newspaper industry. While digital short-run printing and the signage industry seem to be recovering a bit faster, ultimately their growth will also be moderated by the progress of the overall economy. On the other hand book printing exports are doing well but they too face several supply-chain and logistics challenges.

The price of publication papers including newsprint has been high in the past year while availability is diminished by several mills shutting down their publication paper and newsprint machines in the past four years. Indian paper mills are also exporting many types of paper and have raised prices for Indian printers. To some extent, this has helped in the recovery of the digital printing industry with its on-demand short-run and low-wastage paradigm.

Ultimately digital print and other digital channels 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. For instance, there is no alternative to a rise in textbook consumption but this segment will only reach normality in the next financial year beginning on 1 April 2023.

Thus while the new normal is a moving target and many commercial printers look to diversification, we believe that our target audiences may shift and change. Like them, we will also have to adapt with agility to keep up with their business and technical information needs.

Our 2023 media kit is ready, and it is the right time to take stock and reconnect with your potential markets and customers. Print is the glue for the growth of liberal education, new industry, and an emerging economy. We seek your participation in what promises to be an interesting ride.

– Naresh Khanna

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