Opus looks to digital and Asia as government spend sinks to 15-year low

Opus reported a $1.8 million loss in 2011-12 after one-off costs from the merger with McPherson’s Printing Group dragged it into the red.

The group’s latest trading update said publishing was experiencing “subdued trading conditions”, with Federal government expenditure in 2012-13 “projected to be at the lowest level recorded since 1996-97”.

The Federal government announced a $6 million cut in its print spend in September.

Opus said the challenging publishing environment was being offset by strong growth from its Singapore operation, improved trading conditions for its outdoor media division and the introduction of new services such as digital production.

[Related: Opus unveils world-first inkjet book line]

Underlying earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation, and amortisation (EBITDA) for the first half of 2012-13 are forecast to be $9 million – a 25% drop year-on-year.

However, full-year EBITDA is expected to be in line with the pro-forma figure of $20.6 million recorded last financial year.

Chief executive Cliff Brigstocke told ProPrint: “We anticipate a full-year net profit and more information will be provided at the half-year.”

Brigstocke also said the integration of McPhersons had produced annualised savings of $2.3 million thanks to a “rationalisation of facilities and overheads”.

The group said it was preparing to sell “non-core assets” in order to reduce its debt ahead of schedule.

Opus experienced a 17.6% rise in net debt to $62.8 million in 2011-12, although the gearing level improved from 71% to 65%.

[Related: Ups and downs of Opus]

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