Another record profit for Rural Press as regional markets strengthen

Rural Press has announced a record net profit after tax and outside equity
interests of $87.1 million, an increase of 27.3% over last year’s figure of $68.4 million.

Revenue increased by 9.8 per cent to $515,100,000, indicating some recovery in many regional markets.

While the good result was driven by the company’s core Australian publishing and printing activities, which made $ 468.3 million, Rural Press also has radio interests which contributed $7.7 million gross revenue to the bottom line, up from last year’s $6.2m.

Radio only contributes one percent of the company’s revenue, with regional publishing being the largest segment contributor, bringing in 58% of the company’s revenue.

The Radio division, which now holds 13 radio licences, is “positioned for improvement” according to the company.

In Rural Press’ South Australian stations, Local business was “steady” while National advertising is “lagging.”

River 94.9FM is “building from local base with the older demographic,” but requires better management disciplines, which are ”being reinstated with new management.” Benefits form the
Bundaberg Acquisition have not yet been achieved.

Rural Press Chairman John B. Fairfax says the Board is “particularly pleased with the
advertising volume growth of 9% in Australia, notwithstanding the drought conditions in some of
the company’s markets.”

He says there has been “enough rainfall to keep things going but not enough to replenish ground water and storage” in regional areas. He also says the population drift is reversing, with an increasing drift to the country

According to the report there has been a recent softening of National advertising with the Olympics and the anticipated election, but Local advertising is “still strong, particularly real estate & motors.”

Shareholders will benefit, with a 25 per cent lift in the final dividend to 20 cents per share and 22 cents
per share on ordinary and Preferred shares respectively. All dividends are fully franked.