WA News cools Acquisition Speculation

WA News has dampened expansion possibilities, amid growing speculation of a giant media carve up under relaxed Coalition cross ownership laws.

Speaking at the company’s annual general meeting in Perth, Group Chief Executive, Ian Law says WA News is still looking for acquisitions in the media and entertainment sectors, but the sector is now ‘fully priced’ and there are few attractive takeover targets.

And, he does not think any easing of ownership laws will create a spate of takeovers.

“I don’t think there is going to be this flurry of activity that everybody is talking about.

“Nothing’s changed. It’s really a matter of how you justify the price you might have to pay for something.”

WA News is predicting a 14% profit increase this financial year, after boosting first quarter results through rising advertising volumes and rates.

First quarter profit after tax is $23 million, an increase of $5.5 million or 31.8%.

WA News says the strong start to the financial year will mean a jump in full year profit.

Chairman, Warwick Kent, says: “While it is not our practice to provide forecasts, given the high rate of increase in the first quarter results, it is appropriate to give some broad guidance on what we expect for the full year.

“Subject to market conditions, we are currently expecting net profit after tax to be in the order of 14 per cent above 2003-04.”

The growth has been driven by the company’s flagship newspaper, The West Australian, which recorded an increase in earnings before tax of $3.9 million. WA News also publishes 19 regional papers and owns Redwave Media, broadcasting as WAFM, RedFM and The Spirit Network throughout regional WA.

Group profit growth is 7.1% to $91.6 million.

WA News’ shares closed up 10c to $8.62.