STAR Publications (Malaysia) Bhd has declared a higher dividend of 12.5 sen, after posting a 19.2% increase in pre-tax profit to RM102.9mil for the year ended Dec 31, 2002.
The 12.5 sen dividend brings total dividends for the year to 20 sen, compared with 15 sen for the previous year, an increase of 33%.
In a statement to the KLSE yesterday, Star said this second interim dividend comprised of a 7.5 sen tax exempt payout plus a 5 sen special dividend less tax. The dividend is payable on April 15 to shareholders registered on March 31.
The company said it did not propose a final dividend for the year.
The increased dividends are recommended on the back of better results for the year. The company reported a higher pre-tax profit of RM102.9mil for the year, from RM86.3mil previously. After-tax profit rose 13.6% to RM77.6mil, from RM68.3mil before. Basic earnings per share rose to 25.14 sen, from 22.48 sen; while diluted earnings per share increased to 24.23 sen, from 22.18 sen previously.
Star said higher revenues, which increased 11.2% to RM521.3mil, from RM468.9mil previously, as well as lower newsprint costs contributed to the improvements in profitability, although they were partially offset by increased operating costs and higher depreciation charges.
According to the company, depreciation charges more than doubled to RM38mil, from RM18mil last year, due primarily to the new property, and plant and equipment commissioned into use in 2002.
Star, which also presented its fourth quarter end-Dec 2002 financials, achieved a substantially higher pre-tax profit of RM30.4mil for the quarter, up 43.6% from RM21.2mil in the corresponding period last year.
Higher tax charges of RM10mil for the quarter, however, dampened the company’s after-tax profit, which fell marginally to RM20.3mil from RM20.4mil previously.
According to Star, the higher tax charge was a result of a larger provision for deferred tax liabilities arising from timing differences for the Star Northern Hub, which commenced operations in October 2002.
The company’s revenue for the fourth quarter showed a healthy growth of 15.6% to RM139mil from RM120.3mil in the previous comparable quarter.
On the outlook for the current year, Star said it was optimistic higher revenues and lower newsprint costs would result in a favourable pre-tax profit in 2003.