Johnston Press optimistic despite deteriorating trading

Heavily indebted newspaper publisher Johnston Press has reporting 'challenging market conditions' although it expects full-year operating profit performance for 2012 to be broadly in line with current market expectations.

Heavily indebted newspaper publisher Johnston Press has reporting 'challenging market conditions' although it expects full-year operating profit performance for 2012 to be broadly in line with current market expectations.

It said: "Provided that the trading environment does not deteriorate further, with continued achievement of the identified cost savings, increased circulation revenues during the fourth quarter and a growing digital business, we expect full year operating profit performance for 2012 to be broadly in line with current market expectations."

In a trading update for the 18 weeks to November 3rd, the company reported that like-for-like revenues were down 11.4% year on year, with circulation revenues 0.5% lower and total print and digital advertising revenues down 14.0%. The unadjusted declines were 16.1%, 5.1% and 16.3% respectively.

Digital revenues grew by 2.9% year-on-year in the 18-week period. Online display revenues continued to show strong growth but the overall digital growth has been impacted by the reduced digital upsell from a lower level of print employment advertising. It said that: "This is being addressed by an increased focus on standalone digital employment advertising and a move to a 'digital first' approach".

Johnston has projected that full-year like-for-like cost savings in 2012 will now exceed £30m, representing a further £5m saving over and above the amount estimated at the time of the interim results.

Net debt has fallen from £351.7m at the start of the year to £336m as at the end of October with further reductions expected over the remainder of the year. This has been achieved after incurring £11.7m of refinancing costs and £13.8 m relating to the cash impact of restructuring.

CM

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