HT&E share price jumps 16% on half year results, despite COVID-19 impact

Despite COVID-19 impacts, the HT&E share price has rallied because of a positive trading update and tight cost controls.

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The HT&E Ltd (ASX: HT1) share price is soaring 16.18% at time of writing following the release of the company's half-year results. 

Half-year results

Despite advertising spend in both Australia and Hong Kong declining significantly due to the impacts of the coronavirus pandemic on the company's operations, the HT&E share price has rallied today.

The media and entertainment company reported that revenue was down 29% to $93 million compared to $130.9 million in the prior corresponding period (pcp). 

Additionally, earnings before interest, taxation, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) were down 49% to $19.5 million compared to $38.1 million in the pcp.

Underlying earnings per share, excluding exceptional items and discontinued operations, were down 86% to 0.9 cents per share from 6.3 cents per share in the pcp. Exceptional items included the Jobkeeper government subsidy.

The company also advised it is facing an ATO branch matter, but stated it remains confident in its position and will pursue the matter fully through to litigation. 

HT&E reports that radio audiences have remained engaged with commercial radio reaching a record high to over 11 million people weekly. Listening in the home has replaced listening in the car through the use of smart speakers.

Management comments

Commenting on the results, HT&E chair Hamish McLennan said:

The fundamentals remain strong with the underlying business making a profit for the half and maintaining an industry leading balance sheet with $90 million of cash reserves and $251 million of undrawn debt, providing HT&E with flexibility and alternatives for growth.

[Australia Radio Network] is weathering the storm, with overall radio listenership increasing, and streaming and digital audio consumption growing. Our clear commercial strategy, together with great talent integration is winning share and our Q3 and forward bookings are showing improved momentum.

Trading update

In the Australia Radio Network segment, trading in July has improved and finished an estimated 27% down for the month, an improvement on the 46% drop in the June quarter. August and September are tracking similar to July. HT&E said this could improve further in Q4 if current restrictions in Melbourne are moderate and aren't tightened elsewhere.

Additionally, HT&E advises that impacts from the coronavirus pandemic are continuing into Q3. It expects category spend in the Hong Kong outdoor segment could continue, provided restrictions lift and there is an absence of protest activity.

Furthermore, the company reported it remains on track to deliver total temporary operating cost savings in 2020 of $11 million–$14 million, before the current Jobkeeper subsidy benefit of approximately $9 million.

At the time of writing, the HT&E share price is up by 16.18%, trading for $1.40 per share.

Motley Fool contributor Matthew Donald has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. 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 Scott Phillips.

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