After reporting best results for the group and its news media operations, Seven West Media plans to buy back of up to ten per cent of its own shares.
The Australian company reported group EBITDA of $342 million – its best since 2011 – while publishing division West Australian Newspapers reported its best financial result since FY17, with digital subscription growth and a full year contribution from these platforms more than offsetting a decline in print.
“The West Australian is one of the strongest news brands in Australia, with impressive results across both digital and print,” shareholders were told. “Digital subscriptions and audiences continue to show strong growth.”
Group earnings for FY ending June 25, 2022, showed EBITDA of $342 million – the best the network has seen since 2011 – on $1,540 million revenue, up 21 per cent on last year.
The number-one ratings network also reported top revenue share, and strong performance for its 7plus BVOD unit, a strong contribution expected to “continue robust growth”, according to chief executive James Warburton. Seven won 39.1 per cent of Australia’s national TV advertising market during the period.
Warburton also told investors and analysts that the BVOD business had been responsible for 40 per cent of second-quarter 2022 earnings, with 13 million registered, verified users and growth of 57 per cent YOY against market growth of only 47 per cent. Revenue from Seven Digital grew 93 per cent to $178 million, with EBITDA increasing 129 per cent to $139 million.
Acquisition of assets including Prime Media Group and the growth of 7Plus had made Seven “a market leader, with integration of Prime underway.
The on-market share buyback of up to ten per cent of its issued capital “will be funded out of existing strategies”. The on-market share buyback program will be conducted on an opportunistic basis over the coming 12 months, and if fully completed, will still leave leverage within the target one to 1.5 times.
The buyback will be funded out of existing debt facilities, with Warburton saying a “significant improvement” in the balance sheet over the past two years had made it possible.