Trinity Mirror sees profits drop but digital growth

Trinity Mirror, owner of the Daily Mirror and more than 140 regional newspapers, has reported advertising revenues down 30 per cent for the first two months of the year.

In its preliminary full year results the publisher says that regional ad revenues have fallen by 37 per cent and national newspaper ad revenues are down 16 per cent across January and February. However, circulation revenues in the first two months have been more resilient and have fallen four per cent

The publisher, led by chief executive Sly Bailey (pictured), posted advertising revenues of £144.2 million for its national titles and £282.3 million for its regional division for 2008. Revenues from circulation came in at £66.3 million and £36.6 million respectively.

Group revenues for Trinity Mirror fell 6.5 per cent to £871.7 million while adjusted operating profit dropped 22 per cent to £145.2 million and pre-tax profit came in at £124.2 million, down from £191 million in 2007.

Trinity Mirror has undertaken cost cutting over the past year with a 9 per cent reduction in its total headcount. It has implemented a country wide pay freeze and says “2009 will see a continued focus on the management of costs.” Managing director Richard Webb left last September following a restructure

Like other newspaper publishers, Trinity Mirror is grappling with both structural change within its industry as readers migrate to the web and the effects of the recession on advertising revenues.

The company says it continues to invest in development of digital products and launched more than 200 online and on mobile throughout the year. Total digital revenues from retained businesses grew by 27.1 per cent to £43.6 million and digital revenues now account for five per cent of group revenues.

The publisher put up the price of its flagship title Daily Mirror to 45 pence earlier this year while rival The Sun remains at 30 pence.

Bailey says:” Trinity Mirror has performed creditably in very difficult trading conditions. While advertising revenues were under extreme pressure we delivered full-year results ahead of market forecasts. In spite of the downturn I am a firm believer that careful management of our portfolio of strong print and online brands will enable us to navigate our way through the challenging market conditions as we make the transition to a new lower-cost multi-platform business model.”

The company does not plan to issue a final dividend for the year. At last trade today the share price stood at 38.5 pence after opening at 40 pence.

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