If Wednesday was one to instill confidence, today's final day of the Publish Asia conference in Kuala Lumpur brought home all the instabilities and insecurities which had brought many delegates here in the first place.
Fairfax Media boosted profit from its Australian printing operations through a cut in costs of almost ten per cent in the face of a one per cent drop in revenue, results released with the annual report show. Chairman Ron Walker said the print operations “benefited from restructuring, consolidation and investment, with good earnings growth”. Earnings before interest and tax (EBITDA) increased 3.5 per cent to $73.1 million, partially as a result of the 9.5 per cent decline in costs.
While the focus of attention had been the impact of an advertising downturn and “challenging” classified market, Brian McCarthy – who heads Australian newspaper operations – pointed to increases in revenue for display and entertainment advertising. Revenue from Sydney and Melbourne metropolitan publications fell 8.9 per cent. Fairfax reported increases for its Australian regional and community publications (up 7.8 per cent), financial and agricultural publishing (up 15.0 per cent), Fairfax Digital (revenue up by a third, EBITDA up 46 per cent to $114.4 million). Trade Me EBITDA was up 39.0 per cent to NZ$70.1 million, while overall costs had risen 1.4 per cent.
Chief executive David Kirk the company had delivered on what it promised when undertaking its substantial investments and expansion, “our highest priority this year”.