Johnston Press underlying profit slumps

Media group Johnston Press reported a sharp decline in underlying profit and advertising revenues for the full year but posted a twelve per cent increase in digital advertising revenues.

Media group Johnston Press reported a sharp decline in underlying profit and advertising revenues for the full year but posted a twelve per cent increase in digital advertising revenues.

The heavily indebted newspaper publisher said underlining pre-tax profit tumbled to £12.6m in the 52 weeks ended December 29 2012 from £28.4m the same time a year earlier. Revenue for the period fell to £328.7m from £373.8m.

Advertising revenues decreased by 12.7% year-on-year in 2012 however digital advertising revenues for the year grew by 12% after 14.4% growth in the second half.

"The growth in digital employment revenues, reversing recent trends, was particularly encouraging while the growth in local display revenues reflects the significant improvement in our digital audience growth," Johnston explained.

Underlying earnings per share fell to 3.42p from 3.50p in 2011. Net debt at the end of the year totalled £319.4m, down £32.3m from the start of 2012.

"2012 saw substantial progress in the implementation of the group's strategy. This has made the group more efficient, and has reduced its cost base and its net debt significantly," the group said.

CEO Ashley Highfield said: "Good progress has been made in the process of transforming the group in 2012 and the changes made provide a strong platform for us to build on in 2013 as we invest in refreshing our print portfolio, and simultaneously move our operation to be real-time, digitally led, social, mobile and ever more local."

'The economic environment remains challenging, but with the steps that we have taken to improve the effectiveness of the business, to accelerate the growth of our digital revenues, and to continue to manage our costs tightly, we believe that we are well positioned to deliver a strong operating performance in 2013 along with continued strong cash flow."

CJ

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