Advertising blow for Mirror group

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The Independent Online

Trinity Mirror's national titles suffered a setback in the second quarter of the year, after a tentative improvement in revenues in the first three months of 2003.

A trading update yesterday from the owner of the Mirror national newspaper group and a stable of regional titles dashed any hopes of an advertising recovery this year. A "strong" first quarter of the calendar year saw ad revenues up 1.4 per cent on the previous year. However, the following three months were weaker, with ad sales expected to be 3.1 per cent down.

"Advertising conditions have remained volatile during the last six months ... the directors believe the uncertain external trading environment will continue for the remainder of the year," Trinity Mirror said.

Circulation at the Daily Mirror fell 5.2 per cent in the first five months of the year but in May there was a bounce-back, with a 1.9 per cent rise from April. For the group, ad revenues for the first half will be flat, year-on-year, with the regional papers seeing growth of 0.6 per cent.

Richard Hitchcock, analyst at Numis, said Trinity Mirror shares will "tread water" until the company's new chief executive, Sly Bailey, announces her strategy for the group at the end of next month.