Early cost and revenue initiatives help lift Gleaner first quarter
The Gleaner Company edged up its turnover by 1.4 per cent during the first quarter, but reported an after-tax loss of J$3.4 million, an improvement on the company's net loss of J$16 million for the same period last year.
The first quarter is normally difficult for media companies, after the usually hectic advertising activity for the December quarter. But the problems have been exacerbated for several years by Jamaica's long recession, or low growth, and more recently by the Government's austerity measures to restructure the economy.
With the economy flat, The Gleaner Company Limited, which publishes this newspaper, runs a dynamic digital operation and operates two radio stations, reported revenue of J$786 million, or J$11 million higher than for the first three months of 2013. But most of that gain was neutralised by a 3.6 per cent rise in the company's cost of sales, which, despite a J$13.3-million foreign exchange gain on investments and The Gleaner's success in keeping its other operating expenses flat, led to a loss on operations of J$20 million, again an improvement on the operating deficit of J$36 million for the 2013 first quarter.
After a contribution of net finance income of J$15 million from its sizeable portfolio of investments, and a small tax credit, the after-tax position was pared down to a loss of J$3.4 million.
In commenting on the company's first-quarter results, Managing Director Christopher Barnes said: "Faced with continuing uncertainty with the economy, The Gleaner implemented some key initiatives very early in the year, including a trimming down of the size of the publications and the introduction of a subscription model for its online platform: www.jamaica-gleaner.com. These, along with a continuation of energy-efficiency projects, some pricing adjustments and run-rate savings from cost-reduction measures implemented last year, helped the company show the slight improvement in results you are seeing."
The Gleaner last year saw significant growth in uptake of its mobile news applications as well as engagement in the social media environment.
"We are confident that we now have the best multi-platform offering through which Jamaicans, local and overseas, can enjoy our trusted news and opinion, as well as experience our exciting foray into audio-visual content production," said Barnes. The company's efforts in audio-visual productions can be seen at: http://jamaica-gleaner.com/videos/.
Barnes continued: "In radio, following the relocation of Independent Radio Company's operations to North Street, we have started to see cost and other softer synergies which, coupled with tweaks to our programming, are sure to improve our prospects for a turnaround in profitability."
The Gleaner Company Limited celebrates its 180th anniversary in September this year and has started celebrations early with branding and attractive anniversary-themed sales and specials across its products and services. These, coupled with interesting editorial features highlighting the company's great history and role in building Jamaica and Jamaicans, are geared toward the company's celebration of '180 Years for You'.
The Gleaner Company Limited stock last traded at $1.10. Book value per share at March 31, 2014 was $2.10.