The Gleaner Company has reported a modest after-tax profit for the period April to June, 2013 of $26 million, or 54 per cent greater than last year, helping to claw back the $16-million loss posted for the first quarter.
Half-year profit, however, remains behind that of prior year.
The quarter to June coincided with Jamaica's signing of four-year economic support agreement with the International Monetary Fund (IMF), related austerity measures, and a sustained devaluation of Jamaica's currency, all of which created uncertainty in the economy.
This climate led to a $44 million, or five per cent, decline in Gleaner's revenue for the second quarter, resulting in a 2.7 per cent slippage year on year, to $1.57 billion in sales for the first half.
Managing Director Christopher Barnes commented, "Sales performance for the second quarter underscores the difficult environment media continues to face in 2013. This is amplified by the comparison to prior year when the company would have just begun to see the surge in activities surrounding the Jamaica 50 and Olympic events."
He added, "Continued softness in the radio market has affected subsidiary, Independent Radio Company, already impacted by the loss of its Perkins Online show and Independent Talk's host Ronnie Thwaites in the last 18 months."
The group made considerable strides in the second quarter in reducing cost of sales, distribution, administrative and other operating costs, with the effect of holding these flat the year to date.
With net finance income of $28 million, the group was able to push its half-year pre-tax profit into positive territory, at $13 million, and after-tax profit of $10 million.
Barnes noted that The Gleaner's print operations continue to perform creditably on revenue in spite of the prevailing economic conditions.
"Print advertising remains most effective for reaching large audiences. In media surveys, The Gleaner publications remain on top, with Sunday Gleaner's dominance indisputable, and The Star in a class of its own. We remain the best choice for advertisers, given our reach and credibility."
The managing director added that the company continues to implement countermeasures, including projects for energy savings, newsprint and distribution efficiencies, to address the impact of the external shocks.
He also referred to ongoing transmission upgrades, and integration of the radio operations into the group's North Street building.
"Our staff continues to innovate and implement changes to make the operations more efficient," said Barnes.
Commenting on the company's digital thrust, the managing director shared that promotional efforts are creating a strong brand presence in the market and driving revenue growth.
"We have, in the last quarter, pushed heavily our digital offerings, and with the recent launch in July of our news app for the Android operating system (Samsung), this completes our plans of having a dominant presence on the three most popular mobile operating systems, including those for the popular iPhone and Blackberry handsets," said Barnes.
"The Gleaner will continue to leverage its expansive multimedia product base and market leadership position to provide the best solutions to its audience and advertising clients, and drive shareholder value."
The group balance sheet shows assets of $3.4 billion with total equity of $2.3 billion. Included in group assets is approximately $1.5 billion invested in marketable securities and deposits representing $1.24 per share, compared to total book value per share of $1.92. Gleaner shares traded last Friday at $1.16 per share.