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Harrington dives on pounds 1.4m losses

HARRINGTON Kilbride, the troubled publisher, jolted investors again yesterday when it announced half-time pre-tax losses of pounds 1.4m and passed its dividend.

This compared with profits of pounds 621,000 and an interim dividend of 1.7p in the same period last year.

The shares dived 10p - 19 per cent - to 42p, after a high earlier this year of 194p.

Harrington shocked investors in June, when it made a pounds 3m provision against bad Eastern European debts. The 1993 figures were revised, turning a pounds 2.4m profit into a small loss, with the proposed final dividend of 3p cut to 1p.

Yesterday Kevin Harrington, HK's chief executive, said he believed 'the pain is over', with significant changes being made to the group. He said all the controlled circulation titles aimed at Eastern European advertising had been discontinued.

HK had instead expanded its contract publishing activities and created a new conference arm in a twin-pronged effort to restore its business fortunes.

He said the strategic move was due to the bad debts of 1993. However, the shift away from controlled circulation titles had sliced pounds 3.5m off sales in the first half.

Mr Harrington said contract publishing, for the likes of Hertz and Prudential, should turn over pounds 4m this year and pounds 5.5m next.

However, overall profits from advertising sales and other publishing activities had fallen to pounds 1.8m from pounds 3.5m.

HK's new conferencing arm made a maiden loss of pounds 10,000, but this was largely start-up charges. Mr Harrington, the founder of the business, said the conferencing arm also had cash-flow advantages as no credit was given on these events.

One industry analyst said he expected the group to make a reduced full-year loss.