Profits halve for Kerry Stokes' Seven West Media

Kerry Stokes' Seven West Media has reported a profit slump for the first half of 2023/24 and flagged further cost-cutting measures may be needed.

Underlying net profit after tax fell to $63 million excluding significant items, down 49 per cent on the previous corresponding period ending December 30.

The company, which owns the Seven Network and The West Australian newspaper, also saw revenue decline by five per cent to $775 million amid weakening advertising markets.

But outgoing Seven West chief James Warburton said he was confident advertising dollars would return, with promising signs in the automotive and banking and finance sectors.

"Any form of positivity in the market will bring money back to our sector, we're always the first to go and the first to come back," he told an investor briefing on Tuesday.

Mr Warburton, who will leave the company in June, offered an upbeat assessment of the company's position.

"After nearly five years leading Seven West Media, I'm proud to say that the business is set up for the future," he said.

Investors were not convinced, with Seven West shares losing four cents to 24 cents ahead of the close on Tuesday.

The company's shares were trading at 45 cents this time in 2023.

Seven broadcast the Matilda's campaign for the 2023 Women's World Cup bringing in record audiences, but the company struggled to make money from the deal.

Earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation fell 39.4 per cent to $124 million.

Costs also increased by seven per cent compared to the same time last year due to inflation and spending on content, with Seven West taking a stake in audio venture ARN Media.

The media conglomerate is already looking to cut spending with $60 million in cost-cutting measures to be implemented in the 2024 and 2025 fiscal years.

But chief financial officer and incoming managing director and chief executive Jeff Howard flagged more may be required.

"We will revisit this program if the advertising market remains weak across the remainder of 2024, we will act decisively to respond to any further challenges that arise," he said.

Once again, Seven West did not hand out a dividend to investors, with the last dividend issued in 2017.

The broadcast video-on-demand market provided one small bright spot with Seven's audience share growing 16 per cent amid broader market growth of 12 per cent, while Seven also saw an uptick in its share of the total television market to 41 per cent, an increase of 1.7 points.

Seven could potentially take a leading position in the BVOD market, said Mr Warburton, who predicted streaming numbers for the Paris 2024 Olympics would be huge.

Yet the overall television market, which includes metropolitan, regional and BVOD, saw a year-on-year decline of 9.1 per cent, the company said.

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