Harrington makes a good read

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The Independent Online
EXPECTATIONS that Harrington Kilbride, the specialist publisher, would make a big acquisition last year have yet to be fulfilled, but its managing director Kevin Harrington said that organic growth is strong enough to sustain the group's rapid expansion.

'We have looked at companies but have yet to find one that's suitable,' he said. 'With the sort of growth we are putting on, it's got to be really good.'

Star performers in the consumer magazine division last year were Baby, which has increased publication from quarterly to bi-monthly, and Healthcare, until recently available only in doctors' surgeries but now sold through newsagents.

However, the main area of growth was in Harrington's contract publishing and its international magazine divisions. It added six magazines to the contract publishing operation during the year, bringing the total to 20. This makes Harrington the second-largest contract publisher in Britain after HHL.

A strong performance from international publications, including Interactive, a multi-media magazine, and European Marketing Decisions, also helped pre-tax profits to rise by almost 30 per cent to pounds 2.4m on turnover up 54 per cent to pounds 23.8m in the year to 31 December.

Earnings per share increased 31 per cent to 15.5p, and the dividend rises by nearly 9 per cent to 4.5p, with a 3.5p final.

A pounds 1m share placing at 219p last October has helped gearing down from more than 70 per cent to around 43 per cent.

The shares closed unchanged at 183p.

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