Independent News & Media forecasts strong second half

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The Independent Online

Independent News & Media yesterday posted a 9.7 per cent rise in net profit during the first half of the year, driven by strong advertising growth and rising newspaper circulation.

INM, which publishes The Independent, yesterday said it outperformed its peers after showing growth in advertising in all of its main markets in the six months to the end of June. The company, which also publishes more than 180 titles in Ireland, Australia, New Zealand and South Africa, said its overall publishing revenue increased more than 5 per cent during the period, with advertising revenue up more than 6 per cent while circulation revenue rose nearly 3 per cent. Net profits, excluding exceptionals, rose to ¿62m (£43m) from ¿56.5m a year ago.

INM's results were also boosted by a restructuring drive that has resulted in the company consolidating certain service centres, investing in a new publishing system and cutting 450 permanent jobs.

Sir Anthony O'Reilly, the chief executive of INM, said that he expects the earnings momentum to continue into the second half. "This strong performance reflects the clear benefits of our low cost ethos and our multi-market and multi-media strategy... The positive trends we have experienced in the first half across all our markets have continued into the second half." Sir Anthony added that after implementing new systems across its publishing assets, the company's "unrelenting attention" to cost and margin improvements and revenue growth would continue.

INM said it plans to cut a further 129 jobs before the end of the year as it continues to restructure its operation. It booked a ¿27.6m exceptional charge in the first half, mostly related to the cost of the restructuring.

Like many newspaper companies, INM is looking to reduce its exposure to volatile print advertising. As a result, the Irish-based company has targeted education as a sector it is interested in investing in and is launching Independent College in Dublin this year. The concept will build on INM's existing online and editorial educational platforms and could be rolled out in each of the publisher's markets.

Shares in the company closed up 3.75c at ¿3.075 on the London Stock Exchange.

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