Media companies return to the spotlight this week with the annual results for the Ten Network and the annual shareholders’ meeting for Southern Cross Austereo on Thursday. Ten’s results are though to be the best for several years, and while its revenue will be up (and whatever “profit” items it lists won’t be taxed because of huge past losses), investors will want to know about the outlook — which is not looking good.
Ten’s financial year ends at the end of August, so it will have two more months of trading from the June 30 end for Nine and Seven. Ten’s share of the ad market has risen, but that has been in a market that shrank in the year to June and from all accounts is continuing to contract. Certainly the performance of Ten shares in the past three months has been good — up 52.6% to $1.45 on Friday (which is really 14.5 cents before the recent share consolidation). That is a lot better than less than 10 cents (or $1) earlier in the year. But year to date Ten shares are still down 12.6%. Foxtel is close to covering its cost of its near 15% stake in Ten (which it partly impaired at June 30).
Southern Cross shares though have performed more strongly, even after Nine’s surprise sale of a 9.9% stake several weeks ago, which removed Southern Cross from the list of maybe dance partners in any media merger waltz. Southern Cross shares closed at $1.61 on Friday, 7 cents above the $1.54 price Nine got for its stake. Southern Cross shares jumped more than 4.5% on Friday to be up more than 30% in the past three months and 42% since the start of the year. If the shares run higher (back towards the $1.685 peak in late September ahead of the Nine sale) in the next couple of days, watch for some big news at Thursday’s AGM.
By way of comparison, Fairfax Media shares ended the week on 91 cents, down 5.2% in the past three months and steady for the year so far. And News Corp US listed shares are up half a per cent or so for the year so far and around 7.4% in the past three months. — Glenn Dyer