David Prosser: Yell still has a chanceto recover

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The Independent Online

Outlook On holiday a few weeks ago in a part of Britain that does not yet seem to have built any mobile phone masts, I did something I can't recall having done for years. I picked up a copy of Yellow Pages.

I was reminded of this yesterday by the precipitous plunge in the share price of Yell, which publishes the tome. Its warning that its revenues are falling faster than expected triggered a 20 per cent sell-off.

Still, do not write this business off just yet. Having restructured its monstrous debts earlier this year, Yell has a breathing space in which to turn its prospects around. And while most people's experience of using Yellow Pages won't be too far from my own, the company's move online is now generating very significant revenues.

Indeed, for a good number of the SMEs listed on Yell.com, the company represents the sum total of their online marketing activities. And there is no doubting the strength of the brand.

Yell hired a new chief executive yesterday, one Michael Pocock. It looks a good hire: Mr Pocock has considerable online experience and has already turned around the fortunes of one struggling company, the camera business Polaroid. Assuming he can keep Yell's lenders onside, the new man has a shot at repeating the trick. Yell's obituary writers, out in force again, may have spoken too soon.