In 2013, consumer confidence and companies’ willingness to invest declined to a level below the long-term average. Finnish GDP growth remained around zero until year-end 2013.
Economic forecasts published at the turn of the year 2013–14 predict only slow growth for the Finnish national economy after a period of recession. This is due to a number of structural factors that slow down economic growth. On the other hand, the economic cycle appears to be reaching a turning point in the eurozone, and the Swedish and Norwegian economies are showing positive development.
From the perspective of commercial media, the outlook for the Finnish economy is cause for only cautious optimism. If the economy does turn around and begin the predicted slow growth, it can be assumed that the decline in advertising investments will stop and turn to moderate growth.
Media demand among consumers continues to become increasingly fragmented due to reasons such as the proliferation of smartphones and tablet devices. The demand for media consumption is strongly directed towards digital and mobile media in particular.
Advertisers are following consumers to these new channels. In marketing communications, owned and earned media are increasing their share of marketers’ portfolios alongside paid media. Marketers are seeing increased opportunities to bypass traditional media.
Market position and strategy
Alma Media’s strategy for 2014–2016 will have the same core as before. The company will focus on moving towards a multi-media approach to publishing operations, growing digital services and cooperating efficiently within the Group. A major goal announced by the company in late 2013 is to increase the share of digital revenue to 50 per cent by 2020.
The focal points of the implementation of the strategy are:
- Multichannel content
- Marketing solutions
- Digital services
- Resources and skills
In Finland, Alma Media has a very strong market position in online and mobile media due to its strong development efforts and successful investments. This position is further strengthened through new product and service innovation and by utilising the Group’s marketing resources in full. The expansive reach of the media network formed by the Group’s digital services can be offered to advertisers using new tools and methods that reach target audiences more effectively.
Alma Media is also placing a strong emphasis on video as a component of its digital media offering.
The print media published by the company is subject to pressures caused by both changing consumption patterns and the economic recession. The focal points of the strategy for the Group’s regional newspapers are a multichannel content and offering paid content. In addition, the company will implement measures to increase efficiency in partnership with other newspaper publishers, such as content cooperation. The new technological opportunities in newspaper printing will be utilised in full. The growing challenges in distribution will be met in ways that maintain cost-efficiency and the required service level in core geographic areas.
Alma Media is the Finnish market leader in providing financial and company information. The digital media and service offering in this area will be strengthened further. One of the focal areas is accelerating the sales of paid digital content.
In recruitment and career services, Alma Media’s successful acquisitions in recent years have seen it become the market leader not only in Finland, but also in the Baltics and several countries in Eastern Central Europe. This strong position will be further solidified through additional investments and a focus on providing services to customers throughout the recruitment value chain.
Success and achieving good results in a time of transformational changes in the media industry requires strong development of management and competence at all organisational levels. The company has taken measures to meet this challenge by, for example, starting a manager education programme that will continue to move ahead in 2014.
Alma Media’s goal is to use its spearheads of digital growth to produce, and launch onto the market in 2014, interesting new innovations that transform operating models in the industry.
Alma Media’s long-term financial targets published on 25 November 2013 take into account the investments required for growth, repayment of debt taken to support growth, and the distribution of profit to shareholders.
On 31 December 2013, the Group’s parent company had distributable funds totalling EUR 23,905,611 (8,014,054). No essential changes in the company’s financial standing have taken place after the end of the financial year. Alma Media’s Board of Directors proposes to the Annual General Meeting that a capital repayment of EUR 0.10 (0.10) per share be paid from the reserve for invested non-restricted equity for the financial year 2013. Based on the number of shares on the closing date, 31 December 2013, the total capital repayment would amount to EUR 7,548,685 (dividend for 2012: EUR 7,548,685).
In addition, the Board proposes to the Annual General Meeting that it be given an authorisation to decide on an additional capital repayment of no more than EUR 0.10 per share.
Outlook for 2014
In its Financial Statement Release, published on 13 February 2014, Alma Media stated as follows:
Economic growth is estimated to pick up gradually in Europe but remain weak during the first half of 2014 in Finland. The decline in media advertising is expected to slow down during the first half of the year.
Alma Media expects the revenue of the first half of 2014 to be on a par with the level of 2013 or slightly lower. The operating profit excluding non-recurring items is estimated to amount to MEUR 9,0 – 10,5. Revenue for the first half of 2013 was MEUR 151.2 and operating profit excluding non-recurring items MEUR 10.1.
Sustainable Media in 2014
The Sustainable Media corporate responsibility programme creates the framework for Alma Media’s responsibility. In 2014, the focus areas of the programme are:
- Incorporating responsibility into the day-to-day work of Alma Media employees
- Engaging Alma Media employees in the development of corporate responsibility, for example through workshops and development projects
- Organising corporate responsibility campaigns related to well-being at work and the environment
- Responsibility as an integral part of product and service development
- Building an online service related to sustainable development
- Incorporating responsibility into the mainstream of advertising and marketing in cooperation with customers
- Integrating responsibility as part of ICT purchasing
- Developing open corporate communications
- Communicating the Sustainable Media project
- Succeeding in indices and surveys related to responsible investments, such as the Carbon Disclosure Project initiative
- Responsible influence
- Participation in promoting economic and social well-being in society: incl. the Responsible Summer Job 2014 campaign, the Myrsky (Storm) campaign and theme seminars related to social issues
- Advancement of responsibility in the media industry: incl. Nordic Media CR Forum and the Shape research group, the Ministry of Transport and Communications’ Green ICT action plan, Media and democracy seminar series
- Media partnership with the “Ratkaisun paikka 2014” corporate responsibility event