By Paul Busharizi
The New Vision is more profitable now than it was at the same time last year.
The company will launch a countrywide marketing drive to boost circulation this year, the companyâ€™s annual general meeting heard yesterday.
â€œRight now, despite aggressive targets from the Board of Directors, our profitability is high. We are profitable, slightly more than last year despite the loadshedding,â€ said outgoing CEO/MD William Pike.
In 2005/06, The New Vision posted a sh3.64b net profit, up nearly 90% from the previous yearâ€™s sh1.95b.
Board chairman Brig. Noble Mayombo told the meeting at the Sheraton Hotel, that 2005/06 was a good year for the company but he expected more.
â€œThe board has set higher budget targets and we will be looking to improve the quality of the product and increase circulation by improving the time we hit the streets,â€ Mayombo told a full house at the hotelâ€™s Rwenzori Ballroom.
Mayombo said his board was â€œeternally gratefulâ€ for the service Pike had provided in building the company over the last 20 years.
Pike resigned last month.
Mayombo said he was not aware of any planned editorial policy changes. â€œThe newspaper will continue to maintain an objective, critical and market-leading editorial policy,â€ he said.
Reacting to the sh12 proposed final dividend, the shareholders wanted to know why it could not be higher given the companyâ€™s good performance last year.
The finance manager, Zubair Musoke, said the companyâ€™s investment programme was a key determinant of the dividend size.
â€œOur investment programme is financed by borrowing but a big part from retained earnings and this has been our policy because of the high lending rates in this market,â€ Musoke said.
â€œOne can expect a higher dividend payout in future because financing costs will be lower,â€ he added.
Board member Patrick Bitature, who represents the minority shareholders, urged shareholders to have a long-term view about their investment by not pressing for too high a dividend payout.
Mayombo was re-elecetd chairman, Michael Opagi was re-elected to the board, while Florence Sewanyana, the longest-serving member, stepped down and was replaced by Grace Akello.
The New Vision shares closed up at sh460 on the Uganda Securities Exchange yesterday from an opening price of sh430.