Trinity Mirror boosts profit hopes

Updated: 
Daily MirrorA cost-cutting drive helped the publisher of the Daily Mirror deliver an 11.5% rise in half-year profits, despite a further fall in revenues.

Trinity Mirror, which also publishes the Sunday Mirror and more than 100 local and regional newspapers, said revenues fell 4% in the 26 weeks to July 1 as its regional papers were hit by the economic malaise in northern cities and advertising slumped 10%.

But the company, currently being run by finance director Vijay Vaghela after chief executive Sly Bailey stepped down amid shareholder unrest, said underlying profits rose to £52.5 million as it eyes a greater than expected £20 million of efficiency savings this year.

This, along with the falling cost of printing newspaper, means full-year profits should beat City expectations, giving its beleaguered shares a much-needed 20% lift.

The group's efficiency drive in recent years has seen it cut jobs, change regional titles including the Liverpool Post to weekly publications, as well as integrate its Scottish operations into a new subsidiary called Media Scotland.

The group said the launch of the Sun on Sunday in February to replace the News of the World had contributed to a decline in circulation revenues in its second quarter.

And Trinity warned that sales of its national newspapers, which also include the People, will be hit in its second-half as it comes up against strong comparatives from a year ago when sales were boosted by the closure of the News of the World.

However, its national newspapers' circulation volumes are better than before the News of the World's closure, although advertising revenues were down 8%.

The situation in its regional papers was less encouraging, with revenues down 8% and advertising 12% lower as the northern cities where many of its papers are based felt the brunt of recession and cut-backs.

Like most newspaper groups, Trinity is trying to grow online as print sales fall. Its websites attracted 28 million unique users in June and 156 million page views, helped by the relaunch of the Mirror's website earlier in the year. It plans to launch the first paid-for electronic editions of the Daily Mirror and the Daily Record for tablet devices in the late summer.

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