Austereo profit forecast

Austereo’s Executive Chairman Peter Harvie this week announced to the Stock Exchange that the company expects to achieve “an after tax profit in line with last year’s pro-forma after tax result, consistent with market expectations.” But analysis are reportedly not convinced by the statement and have been downgrading their forecasts for Austereo shares. AMT spoke to Peter Harvie about it.

AMT: Despite your upbeat announcement the analysists do not seem convinced. Are you worried?
Harvie: I can only really comment on the statement, they take their own line. In light of the severe advertising market conditions as well as new competition, it is a great achievement to be able to match last year’s figure. It’s a credit to the focus and talent of our team.

AMT: Some analysts are looking at the Newcastle Joint Venture sale as an issue affecting your predicted result.
Harvie: These profit expectations do not include the Newcastle JV money. If we included those benefits we would exceed our forecast, so I’m not sure what direction they are taking.

AMT: Perhaps there is some negative sentiment because Village is not doing so well at the moment.

Harvie: I don’t know if that has an influence. I respect the brokers, they’ve got to take a call.

AMT: I noticed that you are also in the middle of an on-market buy-back for nearly 5 million of your shares. What is that about?
Harvie: We are just making efficient use of our funds. It is a modest buy-back in the scheme of these sort of things.

AMT: Let’s talk about figures of another sort. What did you think of this week’s survey results for you and other groups?

Harvie: It’s been an interesting round. In Sydney I would have expected 2GB to move further ahead, but they have done well. Southern Cross has held ground. And it was great to see us back at Number one and two FM in both the Sydney and Melbourne markets again. Melbourne was a particularly good result, we have an outstanding breakfast program on Triple M called ‘The Cage’ which I think is going to be very successful. In Brisbane I think there is still some settling to do. It is a highly competitive market at the moment – we have a lot of respect for our competitors!