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Tom Group net profits hit US$1.62m in 2003
By Liu Baijia (China Daily)
Updated: 2004-03-18 09:52

Hong Kong-based Chinese media company Tom Group Ltd achieved its first ever full-year profit last year due to the strong growth of its Internet businesses.

Tom Group said on March 17 that its net profits in 2003 reached HK$12.6 million (US$1.62 million), compared with a net loss of HK$410 million (US$52.56 million) in the previous year.

The Hong Kong Growth Enterprise Market-listed company also recorded revenues of HK$2.09 billion (US$268 million), 29 per cent higher than the previous year.

The company's stocks rose slightly from HK$1.99 to HK$2 (26 US cents) yesterday.

"We are excited and proud of reaching the milestone of full year profitability," said Sing Wang, chief executive officer of Tom Group, controlled by Asia's richest man Li Ka-shing.

He attributed the full-year profitability to the company's Internet business, which was listed on the GEM and the NASDAQ last week.

The Internet operation contributed to HK$592 million (US$75.90 million), more than doubling figures from 2002. It was Tom Group's second-largest business segment after publishing.

The Chinese mainland-based Internet business, now named Tom Online, generated HK$133 million (US$17 million) in profits, compared with a net loss of HK$91 million (US$11.67 million) in 2002.

Tom Group's publishing business, mainly on the Chinese mainland, Hong Kong and Taiwan, saw a modest 4 per cent growth to HK$771 million (US$98.85 million) on profits of HK$29 million (US$3.73 million).

The advertising segment, where Tom Group has a dominant position on the Chinese mainland, overcame the negative effects of (SARS) severe acute respiratory syndrome in the first half of last year and its revenues rose by 20 per cent to HK$298 million (US$38 million), but profits fell 38 per cent to HK$27 million (US$3.46 million) due to SARS, lower margin media purchases and internal restructuring.

Michael Yin, a media and Internet analyst in Shanghai, said the performance of Tom Group's Internet business was significant and was a big help to the group's profitability.

"Tom Group's Internet business has been a pioneer in promoting new services and its aggressive marketing activities last year boosted its influence among young people on the Chinese mainland," he said.

Wang Sing said yesterday that Tom Group might get as much as HK$1 billion from the listing of Tom Online on the two markets.

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