SYDNEY, Australia - Australia's second-largest press group Fairfax Media on Monday reported an annual net loss of A$380.0 million (315.4 million US) as the global downturn and the Internet hit earnings.
Fairfax, which publishes the flagship Sydney Morning Herald and the Age in Melbourne, said the same factors that had caused numerous newspaper closures around the globe weighed on the bottom line.
"Over the past financial year, the company has faced a business environment unprecedented in its long history," it said.
"Three factors have had a major impact- the speed of the economic slowdown, particularly in the second half, cuts to discretionary advertising (and) the necessity to respond to online challenges."
The result for the year to June, which included writedowns of A$664.3 million dollars, turned around a A$386.9 million dollar net profit in the previous financial year.
Fairfax, said net profit excluding writedowns was down 40 percent at A$226.7 million dollars.
"Performance for the 2009 financial year reflects a fundamentally profitable business with a number of one-off charges," the company said.
It said most of the one-off costs related to writedowns in the carrying value of its mastheads and goodwill.
Fairfax, which announced at the start of the financial year that it would slash five percent of its workforce or 550 jobs, said underlying earnings were down 27.2 percent at A$605.0 million dollars.
The company said it would not pay an annual dividend but offered some hope that advertising revenues were stabilising.
"Trading results in the first seven weeks of the new financial year indicate that the decline in advertising revenues appears to have bottomed but a material recovery in advertising has not yet commenced," it said.
Fairfax shares were up six cents or 4.1 percent at 1.47 dollars in early afternoon trading on a rising overall Australian stock market. --AFP