Net profits for the half-year to December 31 leapt 20.3% at Australian media mammoth Publishing & Broadcasting – well ahead of market expectations.

At A$193 million (US$101.1m), the half-fiscal comfortably topped analysts’ forecasts of between A$160m-A$180m. The group’s performance was also well ahead of the same period in the previous fiscal when it posted A$160.5m.

However, given the expected slowdown in the Australian economy, chief executive Nick Falloon warned that the second half could be less rosy. “Nevertheless,” said he, “P&B expects to continue to grow its underlying earnings”.

Prime factors underpinning the buoyant results were strong revenue gains at P&B’s Nine Network (excluding the Olympics period when income fell), and stringent cost controls. On the downside, demonstrations against the World Economic Forum, hosted by the group’s Crown Casino in Melbourne, incurred a cost of A$8m, while the magazine division experienced circulation problems after the imposition of a new 10% sales and service tax.

EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes and amortization) from TV operations rose 5.1% to A$163.5m, but magazines fell 12.4% to A$55.2m.

News source: Wall Street Journal