Integrated media house, Zimbabwe Newspapers Limited posted an after-tax profit of $67,7 million for the year to December 31, 2019 from $23,4 million previously on an inflation-adjusted basis.
Driven by positive performances in its commercial printing division and the broadcasting division, the group managed to skate a difficult operating environment that was typified by "rising inflation, declining disposable incomes, foreign exchange shortages and limited energy supplies."
Group revenue for the period under review rose 9 percent to $289,8 million from the $266,9 million recorded in the prior comparable period. Management attributed the revenue gain to a 43 percent growth from the commercial printing division, which came on the back of a gain in market share. The division posted a profit of $22,1 million for the year.
"The commercial printing division recorded a 43 percent revenue growth to $70,4 million as a result of an increase in volumes and ability to timely recover input costs in an inflationary environment," said chairman Mr Tommy Sithole in a statement accompanying the results.
"The division continued to make good profit margins from both the printing and the exercise book manufacturing businesses."
The broadcasting division also recorded an improved performance during the year, with its revenues going up 22 percent to $42,2 million as advertising volumes for the segment improved.
However, the division's profit for the year declined 3 percent, attributable to "underperformance during the early months of the year."
On the other hand, the newspaper division – in line with global print newspaper performance – saw revenues dip 3 percent, which had a knock-on effect on the division's profit for the period. Profit for the newspaper division dropped 3 percent to $29 million, due to low circulation and advertising volumes owing to the challenging operating environment.
In view of the weakening performance of traditional segments, the Zimpapers Group is actively embracing new digital platforms.
Said Mr Sithole, "The company continues to adapt and fully embrace the fast-changing technological environment and in the process matching that to the consumption patterns of its audiences and advertisers.
"The company's business model is premised on availing content on both the traditional and new digital platforms which are coming up and therefore making sure that content and advertising platforms are readily available.
"Going into the future, the company continues to seek partnerships, relations with different stakeholders in the technology space to enhance and grow its digital footprint and avail content and advertising platforms at affordable rates."
Meanwhile, in view of the COVID-19 pandemic that is rapidly spreading across the world and disrupting economies and markets, the group has "taken a prudent view on the need to preserve cash to sustain business operations. The board has not declared a dividend for the year just ended.
Going forward, the integrated media group says it expects to fully launch its television business this year once the requisite licences are granted. Management has also said due to the likely impact of COVID-19 on both the global and local economies, the company's performance this year "is expected to be constrained."
The Zimpapers Group has a wide interest in print media, broadcasting and digital publishing.