Kerry Stokes speaks at Seven West Media s AGM this morning. Picture: Dione Davidson/The West Australian.
Kerry Stokes speaks at Seven West Media's AGM this morning. Picture: Dione Davidson/The West Australian.

UPDATE 1.45pm: Seven West Media chairman Kerry Stokes has told shareholders at the company's annual general meeting that the media conglomerate's share price does not reflect its businesses nor its competitive successes.

Lamenting the languishing share price, Mr Stokes said he wished he could wave a magic wand to improve it.

"I can't do that, magic is not one of the options available," he said.

Seven West Media shares had fallen from a 12-month peak of $3.85 in March to a low of $1.07 earlier this month. However shares in the company surged more than 11 per cent today after chief executive Don Voelte outlined $75 million in improved cashflows from cost savings and improved revenue.

Mr Stokes said it seemed the share price largely reflected the turbulence in advertising, shortness of demand and the markets' concern about changing technologies.

"Quite fortunately, our businesses, that is, our newspaper - The West Australian, our Seven Television Network and Pacific Magazines, are without doubt the best performing media assets in the country," he said.

"In television we have built our market share even in difficult times with less revenue available.

"And even in these difficult times our newspaper is the best performing newspaper in Australia and maintaining a relatively stable circulation. And our magazines continue to do well."

However Mr Stokes said the company was operating in a very difficult market.

"By any standard, the last two years have been very tough for the media industry as we confront the significant challenges of the Australian economy, in particular, cautious consumer confidence that has translated into a very soft and very thin advertising market," he said.

"Without making excuses for the weak revenue environment, I am encouraged by the fact that your company has the best performing media businesses in Australia.

"We are concentrating on revenue, on costs, on performance and on profits. And we need to keep applying ourselves to these objectives and the market should respond."

Mr Stokes said the board had decided to pull a recommendation to shareholders that the directors' fee pool be increased.

Several companies have already encountered unexpected resistance to remuneration reports at recent annual general meeting, particularly when businesses have been perceived to be underperforming.

In August, Seven West Media reported a 97.1 per cent gain in net profit to $226.9 million for the year to June 30, the increase courtesy of the bigger company created after the merger.

The result included earnings before interest and tax (EBIT) of $473.4 million, in line with the company's revised forecast in July.

On a pro-forma basis, assuming the comparative figures included the impact of the merger, group EBIT was off 14 per cent for the year.

Seven West shares closed up 13 cents, or 11.21 per cent, at $1.29.

The West Australian

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