NMG maintains Ksh 2.50 interim dividend

NMG has maintained its interim dividend payout at Sh2.50 per share after posting growth in half-year earnings. Chief Executive Joe Muganda said the media firm had posted Sh825.6 million in profit after tax in the six months to June compared with Sh785.4 million in the same period last year, a 5.12 per cent growth. The Nairobi bourse-listed company reported that its turnover for the period stood at Sh5.27 billion compared with Sh5.63 billion in June 2016. Mr Muganda attributed the performance to lower operating expenses, recovery of pending bills from the government, and continuing growth of digital advertising revenue. “The benefits of driving out costs have come through. There was enhanced debt management from government agencies,” Mr Muganda said at an investor briefing in Nairobi.  “We must protect and grow our current business but we also need to be innovative in order to open new revenue streams and drive digital growth,” he added. At Sh2.50 per share, the total interim dividend payout due to shareholders is Sh471.25 million and will be paid out in September. Tough environment NMG chairman Wilfred Kiboro said he was bullish the company will perform even better in the second half, despite the tough and competitive operating environment. Nation’s total costs dropped 8.6% to Sh4.1 billion while its cost of sales fell 9.3% to Sh955.8 million as a result of an effective route-to-market strategy for newspapers. The company’s broadcast units, NTV Kenya and NTV Uganda, separately doubled their operating profit, buoyed by strong programming and production of content that is popular with audiences. NTV Kenya posted an 18 per cent growth in revenue. The operating income for NMG’s digital business more than doubled, with revenue surging 54%, as the firm aggressively leveraged on its flagship portal – www.nation.co.ke – and 15 other websites to monetise online audiences. Lifestyle magazine KenyaBuzz - where NMG acquired a 51 per cent stake last year - also saw its circulation as well as operating profit double, said Mr Muganda. Uganda’s Daily Monitor had income from operations grow by a fifth. The Daily Nation, The EastAfrican, Business Daily and Tanzania’s Citizen and Mwananchi newspapers posted a drop in their revenue and operating income. NMG, the largest media group in eastern and central Africa, also owns other brands such as Spark TV, sports weekly Ennyanda and Dembe FM in Uganda. The NMG counter closed at Sh108 per share on Wednesday, and the share has edged up 16 per cent since the beginning of the year. Watch the full investor briefing here and download the presentation here  By HERBLING DAVID