Nqobile Bhebhe, Senior Business Reporter
ZIMBABWE’S biggest, most diversified media group Zimbabwe Newspapers (1980) Limited’s revenue for the half year ended 30 June surged by 68 percent to $5,2 billion compared to $3,1 billion recorded in the same period last year.
Growth in revenue was supported by volume recoveries across the operating divisions of the company, chairman, Mr Tommy Sithole, said in a statement accompanying the group’s financial results, which were published yesterday.
He said the newspaper division increased its top line by 56 percent to $3,5 billion driven mainly by volume recoveries.
“The division’s advertising volumes increased by 24 percent whilst newspaper circulation went up by six percent. Resultantly, the division recorded a 120 percent growth in operating profit to $813,4 million compared to $368,9 million for last year,” said Mr Sithole.
He said the commercial printing division recorded strong volume recovery of 45 percent, driven by labels that grew by 48 percent.
“In line with the volume growth, revenue for the division increased by 58 percent to $764,9 million compared to $485,0 million for 2021,” said Mr Sithole.
“The division recorded significant growth in operating profit to $77.4 million compared to $6,5 million for the same period in the prior year.”
On the radio broadcasting division, the chairman said revenue improved by 75 percent to $973,3 million compared to $555,5 million for the same period last year. This was supported by a 14 percent volume growth and price recoveries.
“The radio broadcasting division’s operating profit of $168.1 million was 137 percent better than the $71 million recorded for the same period in 2021,” he said.
However, the overall division’s performance was affected by the Zimpapers Television Network (ZTN) project that is still in its infancy. He said the newly established ZTN channel is gaining traction on revenue generation and audiences following its launch on the DSTv platform on the 24 May this year.
Mr Sithole said despite the gross profit margin remaining flat at 69 percent as recorded last year, net operating profit before interest, exchange loss and monetary adjustments improved to 17 percent compared to 14 percent for the same period last year.
This was a result of better cost management. He noted that operational cost savings were eroded by increased interest costs and exchange losses resulting in a net profit margin being flat at 13 percent.
“The interest costs increased due to high borrowings to fund new projects. Exchange losses arose from exchange rate depreciation, coupled with late payments to foreign raw material suppliers,” said Mr Sithole.
“In absolute terms, net profit before tax and monetary adjustments, increased by 63 percent to $639 million compared to $391 million for 2021. A monetary loss of $353 million compared to $7 million for prior year, was recorded owing to the hyper-inflationary environment. This reduced the company’s net profit before tax to $287 million compared to 384 million.”
Going forward, Mr Sithole said the company will continue to strengthen its product offering by improving performance of its new and old products to give better profit margins. He said ZTN footprint is expected to continue growing as the unit is gaining trust from its audiences adding that the digitalisation strategy remains core to the operations and growth of the company, arising from the growing demand for digital products in the country and the world over.
The group comprises 10 newspapers; four radio stations and a television station, ZTN. Its publications include flagship dailies – Chronicle and The Herald, weeklies – The Sunday Mail, Sunday News and Business Weekly, tabloids B-Metro and H-Metro, Manica Post and indigenous languages papers — uMthunywa and Kwayedza.
The group also publishes the Suburban and runs Star FM, Diamond FM, Nyaminyami FM and Capitalk.