Fairfax Media Limited (FXJ) is an Australian multi-platform media group with a broad range of activities including news publishing, information and entertainment, advertising sales in newspaper, magazine and online formats, and radio broadcasting.
FXJ conducts its core activities throughout Australia and New Zealand. Its major newspaper brands are The Sydney Morning Herald, The Age and The Australian Financial Review.
Additionally, FXJ owns a range of business magazines, websites, and regional and community newspapers.
Last week, FXJ announced some changes to its organisational structure in addition to a major shakeup of its leadership team.
Better late than never, the group has recognised the shift from print to digital and is responding seriously to this change.
The Australian publishing businesses will be consolidated under the Australian Publishing Media division in an effort to drive efficiencies and simplify FXJ’s business model.
Also, the Domain and Digital Ventures businesses will operate as standalone divisions. This will allow the group to devote increased resources and management attention to areas of the business likely to drive its future growth.
Advertising weak, but profit rises amid asset sales
In February, FXJ announced a 300% increase in 1H13 net profit to $386.3 million.
The profit jump came primarily on the back of asset sales, including the company’s 51% stake in NZ-based advertising website, Trade Me, as well as its US agricultural media businesses.
The result helped mask a 7% decline in revenue, with FXJ facing a slump in advertising sales across its major divisions amid economic uncertainty.
On a positive note expenses fell 3% on-year, whilst the group says it is on track to achieve $251 million in total savings by FY15.
The balance sheet was also in much stronger shape, with a net debt to equity ratio of just 5.1% at the end of 1H13.
In its 1H13 results, FXJ argued that a sustained improvement in consumer sentiment is required to see a turnaround in advertising conditions.
In the first four months of 2013, the Westpac Consumer Confidence Index has risen to its highest level since December 2010. Since last October, consumer confidence has risen 11.5%.
It appears the RBA’s 2012 interest rate cuts are beginning to have a noticeable impact on confidence, leading to improved operating conditions for advertisers and media firms alike.
Taking into account its asset sales, organisational restructure and focus on cost control, FXJ is putting itself in a position where it can be more profitable in a slow growth environment.
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