Three of the country’s leading media houses – Jagran Prakashan, DB Corp and HT Media – announced their financial results for the quarter ending September 2023. Jagran Prakashan’s profits were adversely impacted due to increased expenses to strengthen the operations of digital business and other costs. DB Corp, on the other hand, reported strong growth in revenue and profits. HT Media managed to narrow down its losses.
Jagran Prakashan: Slow growth, profits down
The Kanpur-headquartered media conglomerate Jagran Prakashan Limited (JPL), which publishes its flagship Hindi daily Dainik Jagran, reported a standalone operating revenue of Rs 390.59 crore in Q2 FY24, a marginal drop compared to Rs 391.65 crore reported in Q2 FY23, stated the financial results for the quarter ending 30 September 2023 updated on its website.
The consolidated operating revenues of the media group – which has interests spanning across printing and publication of newspapers and magazines, FM Radio, digital, outdoor advertising & promotional marketing, event management, and activation businesses – in Q2 FY24 stood at Rs 458.73 crore, up by 1% from Rs 454.16 crore in Q2 FY23.
The company’s standalone ad revenues stood at Rs 254.03 crore in Q2 FY24, down from Rs 258.57 crore in the same quarter last year. The consolidated advertisement revenues – representing print, digital, and radio – was Rs 318.61 crore in Q2 FY24, marginally up from Rs 317.69 crore in Q2 FY23.
Standalone circulation revenue in Q2 FY 24 was down to Rs 86.74 crore from Rs 89.65 crore in the same period last year. The consolidated circulation revenue in Q2 FY 24 was Rs 89.72 crore, down from Rs 92.62 crore in Q2 FY23.
The standalone digital revenue earned by the group was Rs 21.01 crore, up by 31.9% from Rs 15.93 crore. The consolidated digital revenue was Rs 27.57 crore, up by 32.7% from Rs 20.77 crore.
Standalone profit after tax (PAT) stood at Rs 44.84 crore in Q2 FY 24, down from Rs 55.43 crore in the same period last year. Consolidated Q2 FY 24 PAT was Rs 41.52 crore, down from Rs 50.62 crore in Q2 FY 23. In H1 FY24, PAT stood at Rs 92.33 crore, down from Rs 100.50 crore in H1 FY23.
The flagship Dainik Jagran’s operating revenue, excluding digital, was Rs 280.36 crore in Q2 FY24 and Rs 284.54 crore in Q1 FY24, compared to Rs 293.86 crore in Q2 FY23. Operating profit was Rs 51.26 crore in Q2 FY24, Rs 57.88 crore in Q1 FY24 and Rs 73.24 crore in Q2 FY23.
Explaining the stagnancy and slow growth, Mahendra Mohan Gupta, chairman, JPL, stated that high inflation in edibles left very little in the pocket for spending on items that are not necessary for survival. “This environment is not supportive of industries like newspapers, which thrive when discretionary spending is robust. Volumes apart, passing on inflation to consumers continues to remain difficult as any attempt to increase price drops volumes disproportionately and quickly.”
According to Gupta, the company’s overall performance has to be viewed in this background and in light of the company’s strategy to hold price points to the extent possible. “The company had some growth in revenues during the current quarter as well as a half year as compared to the same period of the previous year supported by the growth of the radio and digital business, and exceptional performance of NaiDunia that had a specific advantage due to location,” he said in a statement.
Profits, however, were adversely impacted due to increased expenses to strengthen the operations of digital business, higher promotional and some non-recurring expenses, and also on account of the impact of inflation, Gupta said. “Further, as stated earlier, I expect further improvement in revenues particularly in H2 benefiting from lower inflation and increased government spending and even more improved profits due to increased revenues coupled with newsprint cost savings due to moderation in prices, which is not yet fully reflected in operating results.”
DB Corp: Uptick on back of lower newsprint prices, cost-cutting
In contrast, showing strong growth, the Bhopal-headquartered DB Corp Limited (DBCL) – publishers of the newspapers Dainik Bhaskar, Divya Bhaskar, Divya Marathi, and Saurashtra Samachar – posted a consolidated revenue of Rs 602 crore in Q2 FY24, growing 10% on a YoY basis as compared to Rs 549 crore in Q2 FY23.
According to the company, the print media segment has cemented its place as the most trusted source of news. As advertisers continue to reap benefits and see their sales increase through ad spending, they are increasing their budgets for print – creating a virtuous cycle.
The company’s consolidated ad revenue grew by 13% to Rs. 430 crore in Q2 FY24 against Rs 381 crore in Q2 FY23, over a high base of last year, said DB Corp in a statement. The circulation revenue grew 4% to Rs 121 crore against Rs 116 crore of the previous year.
The company’s EBITDA in Q2 FY24 stands at Rs 168 crore against Rs 98 crore Q2 FY23 – a 71.4% growth YOY. This was made possible by stringent cost-control measures and helped by softening newsprint prices. The EBITDA margin expanded by 1000 basis points to 28% from 18% last year.
The company said the print business reported EBITDA margins of 30%. The profit after tax (PAT) registered a growth of 106% YoY to Rs 100 crore in Q2 FY24 as compared to Rs 49 crore in Q2 FY23.
As far as the H1 results are concerned, the company’s consolidated ad revenue grew by 15% for H1 FY24 to Rs 825 crore against Rs 718 crore in H1 FY23.
The total revenue grew 12% YoY to Rs. 1176 crore in H1 FY24 against Rs 1048 crore in H1 FY23. The circulation revenue grew 4% YoY to Rs 240 crore against Rs 231 crore. The EBITDA grew 77% YoY to Rs 304 crore from Rs 172 crore and net profit recorded a growth of 124% YoY to Rs. 179 crore in H1 FY24 against Rs. 80 crore in H1FY23.
The company said newsprint prices continued their downward trend in Q2FY2024 and based on their assessment, it expects the prices to remain softened in the next few quarters. “Our average cost for newsprint has reduced from the high of Rs 63,500 PMT in Q2 FY2023 to around Rs 56500 PMT in Q1 FY2024 and now further down to Rs 51500 PMT in Q2 FY2024 resulting in newsprint cost reduction of 16% YoY.”
Sudhir Agarwal, managing director, DB Corp, said, “The Indian consumption story is continuing to fuel growth, with Tier II and beyond cities driving the expansion. Over the past few quarters, print media has been cemented as the most trustworthy medium and Dainik Bhaskar has been a strong component of that trust. This has resulted in robust growth in advertising revenues, and we are happy to see that trend continuing.”
Agarwal said across sectors, advertisers are using DB Corp’s platform for hyperlocal advertisements to increase their returns. He mentioned, “What enthuses us is that even though the festive season for this year is entirely in Q3, our Q2 numbers have shown strong double-digit growth – highlighting the vast potential of the markets that we operate in. We look forward to a good festive and wedding season ahead with an estimated 3.5 million weddings that are likely to happen in Nov-Dec, spurring the local economies.”
The company said the radio segment delivered the industry-best EBITDA margins. “With the government-led radio business initiative of allowance of news and increase of DAVP rates, radio business is expected to accelerate top line and bottom line,” read the release.
HT Media: Print business takes a hit
The Delhi-headquartered HT Media, which publishes the English daily Hindustan Times, Hindi Hindustan, and business daily Mint, and operates a host of digital properties and radio stations such as 104 Fever and Nasha, showed a decline in print revenue. Digital and radio revenue, on the other hand, showed an uptick in the financial results
HT Media’s total revenue for the quarter that ended September 30, FY 2023-24, stood at Rs 426.98 crore, a decline of 4.69% on a y-o-y basis, against Rs 448 crore in the same quarter last year. The company’s revenue from operations declined to Rs 394 crore in Q2 FY24 as compared to Rs 409 crore in the same quarter of the previous financial year.
In its financial statement, the company said the total revenue for the quarter declined 5% on a y-o-y basis, saying the shift of the festive season to Q3 this fiscal has been a major factor impacting operating revenue. Other income also saw a relative decline on a y-o-y basis. EBITDA profitability improved in the quarter owing to the easing of newsprint rates as compared to the previous fiscal, it said.
HT Media’s consolidated net loss (unaudited) has narrowed to Rs 57.42 crore for the quarter ending September 30 FY 2023-24 against a loss of Rs 167.75 crore for the same quarter of the previous year.
The media house’s revenue from newspapers and periodicals declined by 5.77% to Rs 324.11 crore in Q2 FY24 against Rs 343. 96 crore in Q2 FY23. Meanwhile, revenue from radio broadcast and entertainment grew by 7.91% to Rs 35.33 crore against Rs 32.74. The revenue from digital grew to Rs 36.08 crore against Rs 32.91 crore in the same quarter of last year.
The print business ad revenue for the Q2FY24 quarter declined by 9% to Rs 244 crore against Rs 268 in Q2FY23. The circulation revenue grew 3% on a y-o-y basis to Rs 61 crore in Q2FY24 against Rs 59 crore in Q2FY23.
The company said that the advertisement revenue declined on a y-o-y basis due to shifts in festive season dates that impacted ad volumes. While the circulation revenue improved on a y-o-y basis with higher realization per copy for the quarter. Despite a revenue decline, the operating EBITDA saw y-o-y margin expansion aided by a decline in newsprint rates, said the company.
The English print business’s ad revenue declined by 9% to Rs 132 crore in Q2 FY24 from Rs 146 crore in Q2 FY23. Circulation revenue grew by 35% to Rs 17 crore from Rs 15 crore. Advertisement revenue declined on a y-o-y basis but saw sequential improvement with growth in sectors such as BFSI, FMCG, and travel while sectors like real estate, auto, retail and education remained subdued, the company stated. The circulation revenue improved on an annual as well as sequential basis due to y-o-y improvement in realization per copy and better sequential build-back of copies, said the company.
For print Hindi, the ad revenue declined by 8% to Rs 112 crore in Q2FY24 against Rs 122 Q2FY23. The circulation revenue for the segment dropped by 5% to Rs 44 crore from Rs 46 crore in Q2FY23. According to the company, in the last quarter, advertisement revenue declined owing to a decrease in ad volumes (i.e. shift in festive dates). On a y-o-y basis, categories such as luxury, FMCG, and industrial grew while education, retail, and auto were subdued and circulation revenue declined predominantly due to a decline in print copies, it said.
Painting an optimistic picture, Shobhana Bhartia chairperson of HT Media and Hindustan Media Ventures, said in a statement that the business environment improved significantly in the first half of the current financial year on the back of improved government spending. “The company’s performance in the second quarter, compared to the year-ago period, saw higher operating margins despite muted revenue growth, with gains coming from the easing of newsprint rates.”
Revenues of the print business remained flat on a sequential basis, with a marginal decline compared to last year but this was primarily due to a shift in festive season this year, Bhartia said. “Radio posted healthy growth and our digital business also performed creditably in the quarter. The global environment continues to be volatile, both on the economic and geopolitical fronts. If the crisis in West Asia deepens, it could impact India and, therefore, our businesses. However, we continue to be optimistic and believe the festive season will bring all-around cheer. We thank our diverse and loyal audiences across multiple mediums and platforms, and remain steadfast in our commitment to being a reliable source of credible news and engaging content.”