JSE-listed African Media Entertainment (AME) – which owns radio assets and a portfolio of digital media services, publishing and business broadcasting assets, including Moneyweb – is steadily recovering from the negative impact of the Covid-19 pandemic.
Commenting on the group’s results for the year to end-March 2022 on Thursday, AME CEO Dave Tiltmann said operations throughout the various business units recovered significantly during the year.
Tiltmann said although the group has yet to achieve its pre-pandemic performance, it is not far off those numbers and “is on a steady road to recovery”.
He says his target has been for subsidiaries to cross this hurdle this year. “So one of my big focus areas is to get all of the subsidiaries over the line and exceed pre-Covid-19 numbers – and we are not that far off.
“The first two months of our new financial year have been extremely positive,” he added.
Tiltmann said MediaHeads 360, one of the group’s smaller subsidiaries that largely focuses on television, production and selling sponsorships into local TV shows, has significantly improved its performance, resulting in the business exceeding its budgeted profits and operating at the level that is expected now.
He said the radio stations in AME’s portfolio, Moneyweb and the group’s sales house United Stations, are close to pre-Covid-19 numbers but not exceeding them.
Tiltmann said Algoa FM produced a pleasing set of results for the year to end-March, with the much quicker recovery experienced in the national market resulting in it ending 15% above budget.
Despite a severe water crisis, failing municipal infrastructure and disruptive power outages, the positive momentum during quarter four has continued into the new year, he said.
Algoa FM was recently added to MultiChoice’s DStv audio bouquet, and is now available on Channel 837.
Tiltmann said this addition to Algoa FM’s portfolio is very new and only happened in the past three months.
“We always wanted the station to get onto DStv to access some of our audiences who were either travelling at the time or [had] migrated out of our broadcast footprint area.
“The fact that Algoa FM has gone this route is just covering another base, both from satisfying audiences not just across South Africa but throughout Africa on DStv, and also helping to improve the brand from an audience number perspective,” he said.
Tiltmann said United Stations has exceeded expectations for the year to date and the long-term strategy to drive growth, streamline operations and accelerate the development of skills and knowledge in the team has delivered the epitome of a modern media sales house.
“The opportunity now exists to partner with other digital and audio platforms which are seeking to overcome the restraints of a low-growth advertising environment,” he said.
Tiltmann said Moneyweb had a satisfactory year, with the business experiencing positive growth in its more focused digital strategy.
He said Moneyweb continues to improve its audience base, and the continual engagement with the website and the introduction of new digital products is encouraging.
In addition, Moneyweb’s radio partnerships continue to strengthen and deliver enhanced value in its existing platforms.
Tiltmann said the improved performances of the group’s subsidiaries meant AME managed to turn the entire business back to where it wanted to be.
“The critical thing is that AME as a business is pointing in the right direction,,” he said.
AME on Thursday reported a 25% rise in revenue to R250.8 million in the year to end-March 2022 from R200.1 million in the previous year.
Profitability recovered, with operating profit improving by 79.3% to R39.8 million from R22.2 million.
Headline earnings per share grew by 229.7% to 371.6 cents from 112.7 cents.
A final dividend per share of 200 cents was declared, double the final dividend declared in the previous year. This boosted the dividend per share for the full year to 280 cents, 250% higher than the 80 cents declared in the previous financial year.
“We are proud of our results this year,” said Tiltmann.
“We managed to go through two difficult years with Covid-19 without retrenching any staff in the group and we have managed to maintain a really positive and happy environment within our structures.”
The CEO is also cautiously optimistic about the group’s prospects for the current financial year.
“I’m really expecting us to have a fairly decent year. One can never predict the outcome of another wave or two of Covid-19 or the war situation in Ukraine and its impacts on our country in terms of petrol prices and electricity outages.
“But I’m positive about generating further positive results in the next financial year, notwithstanding the uncertainties that exist.”
Shares in AME dropped by 14.92% on Thursday to close at R33.99.