Nine Entertainment Co Holdings Ltd reports: What you need to know

It has been an eventful morning for Nine Entertainment Co Holdings Ltd (ASX: NEC), which has reported its first half results and the resignation of CEO David Haslingden. Former Treasurer of the Howard Government, Peter Costello, has been promoted from a Non-Executive Director position to the Chairman’s role.

Switching back to the results quickly, here’s what you need to know.

  • Revenue is down 5% to $690.3 million.
  • Group EBITDA came in at $127.9 million. A decrease of 5.3% year over year.
  • Net Profit After Tax from continuing operations is down by 6.1% to $78.4 million.
  • Earnings per share declined to 8.8 cents from 8.9 cents a year previous.
  • The company increased its dividend by 90.5% to 8 cents per share.

Revenue was hit by a disappointing performance in both its Network and Digital segments, which saw declines of 5.4% and 2%, respectively. This was largely down to a decline in the advertising market with free-to-air metro and regional reporting declines of 0.4% and 6.6% during the period.

It is perhaps worth pointing out though that despite the decline in revenue in the Digital segment, reductions in incentive payments and overall costs meant Nine was still able to post a year over year gain of 13.4% on its EBITDA.

I have high hopes for its digital offering Stan, which at present I see as the only real competition to US-giant Netflix. Stan is approaching 400,000 active subscribers, and with a subscription fee of $10 per month, it will undoubtedly be a key revenue stream in the future.

The advertising market may look flat, but with its strong ratings share of almost 38% and a pipeline of quality programming, Nine Entertainment is arguably better positioned than rivals Ten Network Holdings Limited (ASX: TEN), Seven Group Holdings Ltd (ASX: SVW), and Fairfax Media Limited (ASX: FXJ). I would therefore expect the shares to outperform its peers in the medium to long term.

The appointment of Peter Costello is an interesting choice, but one the market appears happy with. The shares are currently in the green shortly after the opening bell and the change in chairman could put a bit of a positive spin on what I deem to be average results today.

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Motley Fool contributor James Mickleboro has no position in any stocks mentioned. Unless otherwise noted, the author does not have a position in any stocks mentioned by the author in the comments below. The Motley Fool Australia has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy. This article contains general investment advice only (under AFSL 400691). Authorised by Bruce Jackson.

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