SPH's retail landlord business to offset its newspapers' dwindling revenues
The S$47.9m profit of Singapore Press Holdings' retail business contributed 22% of the total profit of the company in 1HFY12.
In the face of an increasingly uncertain macro environment, OCBC expects SPH’s retail landlord business to provide a stable counterweight to its core print business which is expected to face pressure from dipping ad demand.
Here's more from OCBC:
The retail business, comprising of the Paragon and the Clementi Mall, contributed S$47.9m of profits before tax (PBT) in 1HFY12, making up a respectable 22% of total PBT. Given the limited retail pipeline in the Orchard area over FY12-13 (est. 543k sq ft net floor area), we expect rentals at the Paragon to stay relatively resilient.
In addition, we expect the strategic location of the Clementi Mall, now fully leased, at Clementi MRT station and strong foot traffic of 60k daily to underpin rental levels.
Expect growth in retail mall segment
Going forward, SPH’s retail landlord business is set to grow with the expected completion of the Sengkang commercial development by 2016. Won in a tender in Jan 2012 for S$328m, the 99-year Sengkang site is expected to yield a retail mall with ~284k sq ft GFA which would add another suburban mall similar to the size of Clementi Mall into SPH’s retail portfolio.
We also believe that SPH’s 70:30 partnership with UEL would create considerable synergy between UEL’s property development experience and SPH’s mall management capabilities. Moreover, with group investible funds at S$0.9b as of end Mar 2012, we believe there is sufficient capacity for SPH to allocate additional capital into its retail strategy ahead.
For the current fiscal year, however, we expect to see sustained downward pressure on SPH’s core print advertisement and circulation business as demand softens in an increasingly uncertain macro environment. In 1HFY12, we saw newspaper ad revenue dip 2.3%, driven mostly by falling classified ad demand which fell 6.5%.
On the other hand, newsprint costs are expected to stay relatively stable ahead and we believe SPH has some flexibility in managing staff costs should the top-line weaken further.