One of Nigeria’s oldest publishing houses is worth less than a million dollars

Over the years, there have been many arguments and counter-arguments about whether Nigerians read as much as they are supposed to. Believe it or not, there is even a book titled “ Why Nigerians Don’t Read Anymore: The Catastrophe That Awaits A Non-reading Nation .” While the plausibility of some of the arguments raised in this book remain suspect to those who believe that Nigerians read enough, the truth is that the Nigerian publishing industry hasn’t been thriving as much as it is supposed to. One of the reasons is that people aren’t buying books. It may surprise you to know that Academy Press Plc , which is one of the oldest and “biggest” publishing houses in the country, is currently valued at less than a million dollars.

Information available on the Nigerian Stock Exchange’s website shows that the company has a market capitalisation of N211, 680, 000.00 . In dollar terms, this converts to $584, 253. The company has the lowest market cap, when compared to the two other publishing houses on the NSE, namely University Press Plc and Learn Africa Plc. As a matter of fact, it is one of the least capitalised companies in Nigeria.
Year to date, Academy Press stock price has shed N0.15, having declined from N0.50 in January this year to N0.35 on Friday September 20th. A simple multiplication of the company’s outstanding shares (which stands at 604,800,000) by the current share price of N0.35, was used to arrive at the above-stated market cap.
Chart showing the company’s stock performance YTD as seen on Bloomberg.

Established in July 1964, Academy Press Plc is a Nigerian printing/publishing company which is headquartered in Lagos. The company claims on its website that it came into business with the mission of redefining the status quo of the Nigerian publishing industry, which had been hitherto dominated by British-owned firms. However, going by present circumstances, it is highly doubtful that it has accomplished this mission.

Products and services: As a fully-fledged publishing company, Academy Press engages in the publication of both academic materials and corporate documents. Information available on its website indicates that not only does it publish books (i.e., academic, religious, biographies, etc.), it also prints stuff like annual reports of companies, invoices, waybills, deposit/withdrawal forms for banks, posters, calendars, etc.

Based on the foregoing, it is obvious that Academy Press has a wide range of market audience which includes the likes of schools (nursery, primary, secondary, and tertiary), libraries, students, quoted companies, banks, etc. However, is the company making enough money? We shall see soon.

A look at the company’s financials
The company’s unaudited financial statement for the first quarter period which ended on June 30th, 2019, shows that it ran at a loss of N175.2 million after earning total revenue of N423.4 million. For the full-year period ended March 31st 2019, the company reported a revenue of N2.4 billion and a profit after tax of N34.6 million , thereby marking a decline from a PAT of N63.6 reported in the preceding year.
This shows that not only is the company not making enough money, it is also struggling to remain profitable.
The company’s ownership structure

According to information available in its 2018 financial results, Academy Press is owned by the following entities:
Alidan Investment Limited: 84,078,546 units of shares which represent 13.9% of the total shareholding.
West African Book Publishers Limited: 62,880,000 units, representing 10.4% of the total shareholding
Humbleside Limited: 60,443,208 units, representing 9.99%
Others: 397,398,246 units, which represent 65.71 units of total shareholding.

Board of Directors
1. High Chief (Sir) Simeon. O. Oguntimehin: Chairman
2. Mr. Wahab. B. Dabiri: Vice Chairman
3. Mr. Olugbenga Ladipo: Managing Director/Chief Executive Officer
4. Mr. Oyewole Olaoye: Non-Executive
5. Mrs. Folashade B. Omo-Eboh: Non-Executive
6. Mr. Omosola Sokunbi: Executive
7. Mr. Femi Akingbe: Non-Executive
8. Mr. Ivor Hutchinson: Non-Executive
Here are some of the company’s competitors
The Nigerian publishing industry is rife with intense competition among the old players, as well as the new entrants in the business. Besides the quoted ones, other old publishers include the likes of HEBN Publishers Plc, Evans Brothers Nigeria Publishers Limited, and Literamed Publications Nigeria Limited. There are also newer publishing houses such as Kachifo Limited, Cassava Republic Press, Parresia Publishers, to mention a few.

But there is a bigger challenge than competition
Maybe Nigerians are, indeed, not reading as much as they are supposed to. This partly explains why Academy Press is struggling to maintain profitability. Another way to examine the situation is by considering whether Academy Press is doing enough to facilitate growth. Like most publishers in the country, complacency has often been a major issue. Some of these publishers are known to take less publishing risks even as they rarely advertise. As such, profitability is hampered.

It is, therefore, time for Academy Press Plc to rejig its business model in order to stay relevant and profitable. For one, the company needs a very aggressive marketing approach. It may also consider raising capital to facilitate its necessary expansion.



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