Seven reviews strategy after $1.9b loss

Kerry Stokes’ Seven West Media is launching a strategic review and warns of another difficult 12 months ahead after plunging to a $1.

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9 billion full year loss.

Writedowns of more than $2 billion, mostly related to its Seven Network TV assets, caused the huge slide from the previous year’s $149 million profit.

Seven West warned underlying earnings in the 2015/16 year would fall by up to 10 per cent, after an 11 per cent slide in 2014/15 amid lower TV advertising revenue.

Chief executive Tim Worner said the company had been well served by its focus on mobile, live sport and television production and distribution, but a review of its strategy would be carried out in the coming year.

IG Markets market strategist Evan Lucas was sceptical of Seven West’s prediction of low single digit growth in the TV ad market in 2015/16, and expects the review to encompass both programming and online strategy.

Seven West is likely to increase its investment in digital products and to look at streaming sport on Presto, its joint venture with Foxtel.

“They are being monstered by Netflix by a long, long way and they’re coming third to Stan, which hasn’t seen a brilliant takeup but is beating Presto,” Mr Lucas said.

“Clearly they are behind.”

Seven’s extension of its free-to-air AFL broadcast rights to 2022 in a $150 million per year deal doesn’t solve all of its problems, Mr Lucas added.

“Clearly sport is a massive revenue turner but the issue is the upfront costing of it is also incredibly expensive,” he said.

“It is clearly the most lucrative winter sport in terms of ad dollar turnover, but you’ve also got to provision for the other half of the year and they often find that in the other months they struggle.”

Newspaper revenues from titles including The West Australian fell 10 per cent in 2014/15, while earnings were down by more than a quarter to $52 million.

Magazine earnings were flat at $20 million and Mr Worner said Seven is changing the Pacific Magazines operation “from a print centric business to an audience business”, spreading brands such as Marie Claire Australia across social media and television.

“Distribution and content consumption habits are evolving fast, but great stories really well told will always be the life blood of our business,” Mr Worner said.

“Some of the moves we are making will take time, but we believe they will better position us for what will be a very exciting future.”

Seven West shares gained half a cent to 82 cents.

TV WRITEDOWNS WEIGH ON SEVEN WEST MEDIA

* Net loss of $1.89b, compared to a $149.2m profit

* Revenue down 4pct to $1.77b

* Final dividend down two cents at four cents