Another very weak result from Seven West Media for the year to June will see shareholders go without any dividends for the third year in a row.
The last dividend paid by the company (40% controlled by Kerry Stokes’ Seven Group Holdings) was in September 2017 at 2 cents a share.
That will still be the last when we come to look at the 2020-21 results in a year’s time.
Seven said its underlying statutory earnings fell 49% to $129.5 million in the year, hit by a weak advertising market caused by the coronavirus pandemic.
Revenue fell 14% to $1.2 billion, net loss after tax was $200.1 million, an improvement from last year with impairments, redundancy and other charges, and one-off costs around $365 million against $600 million in 2018-19.
The company said it had made $170 million from cost cuts, predominantly out of its television division, and $150 million from the sale of assets including the West Australian headquarters and Pacific Magazines.
The company will aim for a further $30 million to $50 million in cost cuts in the current. Staff numbers fell 20% in the year, with some of those going in the sale of Pacific Magazines to Bauer (which then sold them and its titles to private equity).
Seven chief executive James Warburton said he had made progress with his plans to change the business despite the challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic.
“Our objective is to establish a lean, efficient operating cost base to deliver further savings in the 2021 financial year and I am confident we will deliver our strategy and ambitions for the future.
“We have significant operating leverage with our lower cost base to provide greater upside on market recovery and drive significant value for our shareholders.”
Seven claimed to have cut net debt to $398 million but the accounts show gross debt up 20% to $749 million.
Seven said it was not in a position to provide earnings guidance for the next financial year because of market uncertainty.
Seven shares fell 16% to 13 cents (that had risen 29% to 15 cents in the five days ended Monday of this week).