Jamaica's becalmed economy made it tough going for media firms in 2012.
But despite the difficulties, The Gleaner Company, bolstered by its demonstrable ability at cost containment, was able to return a pre-tax profit of J$88 million - even if it was a third lower than the previous year.
However, when a J$45.5 million tax gain - consequent on the accounting effect of the Govern-ment's reduction in corporate income tax - is added to the mix, the profit to stockholders rose to J$133 million, or approximately 11 per cent higher than the previous year.
The Gleaner, however, has warned shareholders that neither itself, nor the rest of Jamaica's media industry, are out of the woods and that this year is likely to be even more demanding.
"We expect that the challenges faced in 2012 will intensify in 2013," chairman Hon Oliver Clarke, OJ, and Managing Director Christopher Barnes, said in a joint statement accompanying the financials. "Nevertheless, we will continue to seek out opportunities for growth and to continue our multimedia thrust," they said.
The Gleaner has as its flagship newspapers, The Gleaner, The Sunday Gleaner and the afternoon tabloid, The Star. However, Barnes has made the expansion of the group's digital products central to his stewardship since succeeding Clarke as CEO two years ago.
In the year just past, group revenue of approximately J$3.2 billion, was essentially flat, while "cost of sales" rose seven per cent, to J$1.8 billion. In the circumstance, gross profit dipped by a similar seven per cent, or J$97 million, to J$1.38 billion.
A J$10 million (seven per cent) upward nudge in "other operating income" boosted gross operating revenue to J$1.53 billion, but still nearly six per cent below the previous year.
In recent years, however, The Gleaner Company has demonstrated a capacity to maintain a lid on, if not lower its costs. In critical cost areas including distribution, administration, and other expenses, the company trimmed J$128 million, or eight and a half per cent from its spend. "We invested heavily in projects to curtail electricity and newsprint consumption, both of which impact our operating costs significantly," the company statement said.
Yet, profit from operations remained slim at J$15.3 million. That was until the net injection of J$72 million in investment and interest income from securities and cash held directly and over J$1 billion of assets representing funds due to the company arising from the 2010 wind up of its defined-benefit pension fund.
The upshot was nearly J$88 million in profit from operations, to which was added the income tax credit.
Jamaica's economic anaemia, notwithstanding, The Gleaner's balance sheet remains strong, with J$3.5 billion in assets and debt at a mere four per cent of total capital, or J$99 million. Shareholders' equity at the end of 2012 was J$2.4 billion, up three per cent.
The Gleaner's digital products
ePaper (epaper.jamaica-gleaner.com) - A subscription-based digital replica of the printed Gleaner available online. Readers are able to access the award-winning pages of The Gleaner, complete with advertising, anywhere they have Internet access.
diGJamaica (digjamaica.com) - The modern answer to the handbook of Jamaica, digjamaica is a comprehensive source for a broad range of past and present information and data about Jamaica presented in a friendly format to enhance the user experience.
Firstlook (gofirstlook.com) - A site developed for posting, researching and sharing press releases. Users are able to upload releases themselves and share what is important to them whenever they like.
Video gallery with advertising platform (www.jamaica-gleaner.com/videos) - Experience 'Gleaner TV' by watching Gleaner news reports, programmes and features. High traffic to this site makes the gallery an attractive platform for showing video commercials at a fraction of the cost of other outlets.
Mobile applications - The Gleaner is also pioneering local mobile revenue opportunities with its mobile device applications such as The Gleaner and Star BlackBerry News apps (over 130,000 downloads from BlackBerry Appworld), as well as its mobile website (mobile.jamaica-gleaner.com). Keep up to date on what's happening in Jamaica, on the go. Stay tuned for more exciting mobile opportunities.
Websites (www. jamaica-gleaner.com, www.jamaica-star.com, www.go-jamaica.com) - With a combined 18-million plus page views and growing, these websites provide the world with news, sports and entertainment out of Jamaica and the region. Regular updates keep users coming back several times during the day, making these sites very attractive for advertising messages.