SCMP Group, which publishes the South China Morning Post, said first-half net profit rose 30 per cent, helped by higher revenues from display and notices advertisements. The company yesterday reported a net profit of HK$146.53 million or 9.39 HK cents a share for the six months to June, compared with HK$112.31 million or 7.2 HK cents a year earlier. Revenue rose 9 per cent to HK$583.17 million. Interim dividend was raised by a cent to 6 HK cents per share. Revenue of the group's newspaper publishing business grew 9 per cent to HK$492 million, with net profit rising 27 per cent to HK$140 million. The newspaper's operating profit margin expanded by four percentage points to 34 per cent. The growth was mainly driven by an 11 per cent increase in display advertising revenue, compared with 8 per cent in the industry. The yield rate and the volume of display advertising were up 5 per cent and 4 per cent, respectively. 'Branded product, banking and finance and watches and jewellery are the three main clients of our display advertising,' said the company's chief financial officer, Nancy Valiente. The company raised the rate in premium positions and pushed new formats and special execution to boost the advertising rate. The launch of new supplements such as Style was also well-received by advertisers, it said. The full colour printing capacity of the newspaper contributed to increasing the proportion of colour advertisements to 70 per cent in the first half, up eight percentage points from a year ago. Notices revenue rose 47 per cent, accounting for 6 per cent of total advertising revenue, up from 5 per cent last year, helped by a surge in initial public offerings. Operating cost grew 5 per cent, with staff cost rising 3 per cent to HK$181 million and production cost climbing 7 per cent to HK$86 million. The company revised upwards the estimated average newsprint cost for this year to US$620 per tonne from US$613 earlier this year.