Network18 Media on a turnaround trail

MUMBAI: The Network18 group is doing very well, thank you. The group’s media holding company Network18 Media & Investments has reported results which show that the management led by managing director Raghav Bahl and group CEO B. Saikumar is slowly but surely driving it back to profits.

The company has reported revenues of Rs 679.5 crore in Q4 FY 2013 as against Rs 697.4 crore in Q3 FY 2013. Revenues for the full financial year ending 31 March 2013 are at Rs 2400.8 crore as against Rs 1943.8 crore – a jump of 23.51 per cent. This was driven primarily by an almost doubling in revenues from its digital content and ecommerce vertical to Rs 400.9 crore (from Rs 233.8 crore) for the whole year. Its television and motion picture vertical too leaped ahead 36.62 per cent in revenues to Rs 1725.5 crore (Rs 1262.9 crore).

The company shaved off its operating expenses for Q4 2013 to Rs 666.8 crore from Rs 686.8 crore in Q3 FY 2013. For the whole year ending 31 March 2013, its operating expenses rose to Rs 2440.1 crore (Rs 2239.9 crore).

Operating profits for the group during Q4 2013 were at Rs 12.8 crore against Rs 10.6 crore during Q3 FY 2013 keeping its operating margin at 2 per cent. During Q4 FY 2013, there was a drop in the company’s television and motion picture unit’s operating profits to Rs 34.6 crore (from Rs 48.1 crore). The operating losses for its digital content and e-commerce vertical fell to Rs 24.3 crore from Rs 31.3 crore in this period. The operating margins for its television and motion picture business in Q4 FY 2013 decreased to seven per cent (nine per cent in Q3 FY 2013).

For the whole year, there has been a drastic reduction in its operating losses to Rs 39.2 crore (Rs 296 crore). Its television and motion picture business which reported operating profits of Rs 107.1 crore (Rs 1.6 c rore) and allied businesses (publishing), which saw a decrease in losses to Rs 46.9 crore from Rs 118.8 crore, helped staunch the red ink. Its digital and e-commerce business continued to lose money operationally with an operating loss of Rs 125.4 crore (Rs 126.3 crore). The operating margins for its TV and motion pictures have improved from 0 to 6 per cent for the full year.

Network18‘s consolidated debt as on 31 March 2013 stood at Rs 211 crore, down 90 per cent from Rs 2130 crore at the end of FY12.

Interest costs for Q4 FY 2013 were reduced to Rs 38.9 crore (Rs 53.1 crore in Q3 FY 2013). For the whole year it managed to keep its interest cost under control at Rs 272 crore (Rs 270.7 crore in FY 2012).

It managed to report a net profit of Rs 50 lakh in Q4 FY 2013 (Rs 6.8 crore in Q3 Fy 2013). For the full year, it managed to improve its bottomline with a reduction in losses to Rs 105.5 crore (Rs 392.7 crore).

During the year, Network18 profitably sold its entire stake in Newswire18, divested its Yellow Pages and Askme businesses and diluted its majority stake in Book My Show. These transactions, in line with the strategy to exit non-core businesses, added Rs 180 crore to the annual profit and raised Rs 235 crore for the Network18 Group.

Says Bahl: “We are delighted to inform our investors and stakeholders that at both Network18 and TV18, we have successfully deleveraged our balance sheets and have delivered strong operating performances. Network18s and TV18s net debt now stands at less than one-fifth of the peak levels and our interest payments have come down sharply. We are confident that we are now entering a sustained value creation phase in our journey as we continue to strengthen our existing operations and consolidate our regional acquisition.”

Adds B. Saikumar: “We are extremely pleased that our digital and broadcast operations have turned in a sustained and healthy operating performance during the year despite softness in the advertising environment. Our e-commerce businesses have turned in another stellar year and our digital content businesses continue to grow steadily. We are now on a solid net distribution income trajectory and while our flagship channels like CNBC TV18/Awaaz, Colors and CNN IBN continue to perform admirably, we are also enthused by the performance of recent launches and the motion pictures business. Inspite of near term challenges given the macro-economic headwinds, we are hopeful of delivering a strong year ahead.”

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