February 19, 2018 / 10:37 PM / in a year

UPDATE 1-Seven West Media 1st-half profit jumps on lower costs, suspends dividend

(Adds background, details on costs, outlook)

Feb 20 (Reuters) - Australian broadcaster and newspaper company Seven West Media Ltd said on Tuesday its half-year net profit jumped as it successfully cut group costs during the period.

The media company said its net profit for the six months ended Dec. 30 totalled A$100.7 million ($79.68 million), up compared with A$12.4 million in the prior corresponding period.

The owner of daily newspaper The West Australian, which has struggled in its advertising battle against online rivals like Alphabet Inc’s Google and Facebook, suspended its dividend.

It paid an interim dividend of A$0.02 a share last year.

Half-year revenue and other income was A$810.1 million, down 11 percent, the company added in a statement to the Australian Securities Exchange.

The firm’s first-half operating costs (including depreciation and amortisation) fell 14 percent lower, compared to the prior corresponding period, when Seven West covered the Summer Olympic games in Rio de Janeiro.

Competition in Australia’s media sector has heated up as online rivals like Facebook and Google have squeezed Australia’s staid media houses with marketing dollars moving toward online, targeted advertising. The exodus of ad dollars has resulted in job cuts across the sector.

The company, a third of which is owned by diversified investment firm Seven Group, reaffirmed its expected earnings before interest and tax for the fiscal year 2018, while raising its cost cutting target by 19 percent to A$125 million across the 2018 and 2019 fiscal years. ($1 = 1.2637 Australian dollars) (Reporting by Aaron Saldanha in Bengaluru; editing by Jonathan Barrett and G Crosse)

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