Standard Group Stuck In Red Mud Despite Revenue Growth

Media house servicing expensive loans that are weighing down its balance sheet

Standard Group cut its loss before tax to Ksh22 million for year ended 31st December 2021 compared to a loss before tax of Ksh434.4m over a similar period in 2020, an improvement of 95%. After taxation, however, the loss increased to Ksh73.1 million, down from the previous year’s net loss of Ksh301.6 million.

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The higher net loss was caused by an income tax expense of Ksh51 million that arose from temporary differences in deferred tax. According to the media house’s audited accounts, revenue increased by 8% to Ksh3.1 billion from Ksh2.9 billion in the previous year. Cost rationalisation continued to be integral to the company’s operations which saw the group’s total operating costs reduce by 5% from 2020.

However, financing costs devoured a big chunk of the revenues to the tune of Ksh162 million, a slight drop from the previous year’s figure of Ksh164 million. Financing costs include interest and other costs incurred by the company while borrowing funds, which means Standard Group has expensive loans it is servicing and which are weighing down its balance sheet.

Standard Group – which runs Standard newspaper, The Nairobian, KTN and three radio stations – has been struggling with cash-flow difficulties which became complicated when it found itself unable to pay staff salaries on time. Over the past few months, the company has been paying staff in batches as revenues trickle in.

A delay in releasing the full-year results was seen by the market as a way to buy time to massage the numbers not only to impress shareholders already starved of divided but also save the company’s share price from a freefall at the Nairobi Securities Exchange. Improved earnings will also soothe jittery employees who have recently been scanning for greener pastures.

Meanwhile, earnings per share, which measures a firm’s profitability, improved to Ksh-0.81 in 2021 from Ksh-3.79 in 2020.

The outlook for 2022 is optimistic, the company says in a commentary accompanying the results. “We expect revenue growth from new business initiatives with focus on partnerships. Further, we continue to enhance our operational efficiency while diversifying our product portfolio and innovating ways to improve the business,” the company said.

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With the launch of the converged newsroom, the new look KTN News TV channel, other revamped products and its “quality journalism supported by digital first approach”, Standard Group management is confident it will meet the needs of its audiences and clients across all platforms.

With a smaller loss of Ksh73 million realized in a difficult year like 2021 where Covid-19 pandemic hit most business, the business is riding an optimistic wave that 2022 will  be a better year, lifted for the most part by increased advertising related to the 9th August general elections.

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