Aspermont holds its core strength

The Australian Securities Exchange-listed company said the $11.66 million revenue figure, up from $7.03 million in the December 2007 half, included the full consolidation of the $A18.8 million acquisition of United Kingdom publisher Mining Communications Limited in April last year.The group booked a loss after tax of $793,000 for the period after incurring costs for new product development and short-term corporate and integration costs. However, it stated a $1.2 million consolidated earnings profit before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation, up 13% on the corresponding period, after allowing for new product investment, unrealised investment portfolio movements and one-off corporate costs.Aspermont publishes an international stable of print and online B2B (business-to-business) news services covering the mining, petroleum, coal, construction, biotechnology and logistics sectors, including ConstructionIndustrynews.net. The publishing business is complemented by a global offering of specialist conferences.The group said slowing advertising sales in the latter part of the report period due to the global economic downturn, which impacted Aspermont’s key markets in the resources and construction industry sectors, had been the catalyst for a full review of business operations.New product development had been slowed in some marginal sectors until the return of more favourable trading conditions. Cost-reduction measures were expected to yield saving of about $3 million a year, with the financial impact already visible in the second half of 2008-09 and projecting into the next financial year. The company was also rejuvenating the sales process across the business, focusing on improved key customer management and bundled sales across multiple products as well as taking advantage of Aspermont’s global exposure.While advertising sales slowed, subscription services had remained firm, a result the company put down to the quality information content that continued to be provided to its loyal readership base.Although conferencing could be susceptible to economic downturn, the leading Mines & Money London event last December had exceeded 2007 outcomes. The merger of leading Australian resource investment magazine ResourceStocks with its UK counterpart, World Mining Stocks, had led to cost savings.The company also maintained its investment in new technology, with the implementation of new and more efficient magazine production and print/online subscriptions systems that are expected to produce combined savings of $260,000 a year.In Australia, the joint venture with the Kondinin Group is forecast to grow revenue streams in the Australian agricultural sector.Chief executive officer Colm O’Brien said Aspermont’s normalised result showed the underlying financial performance of its core products remained positive. “The current trading conditions have been a catalyst to rejuvenate our sales approach and completely review costs,” O’Brien said. “The underlying EBITDA performance is satisfactory considering the group is reinvesting profits into new products and systems which in turn position the group for future growth.“Historically our financial performance in the second half is always stronger and with various cost initiatives yet to kick in, we believe a result in excess of the 2008 result remains on course”

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