Upbeat Trinity Mirror gives Â£250m back to investors
Friday 04 March 2005
Trinity Mirror, the regional and national newspaper publisher, has the capacity to spend some £1bn in cash on acquisitions even after announcing plans yesterday to return £250m to shareholders through a share buyback programme.
The company also revealed that it plans to become a national player in the directories market, competing against Yellow Pages; it is also considering investing £55m in its Watford print works. The Watford upgrade would enable it to publish its three tabloid national papers - the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and The People - in full colour in south England and Wales. The group already has this capacity elsewhere in the country and the Watford investment will enable Trinity's nationals to keep up with the colour printing capabilities of key rivals.
Reporting a 21 per cent jump in 2004 group profits to £209m, Sly Bailey, Trinity's chief executive for the last two years, declared that the company had been "stabilised, revitalised" and was now embarked on growth initiatives - such as the directories venture. She admitted, though, that falling circulation at the Mirror titles remains a "disappointment".
The company's shares closed up 5 per cent at 719.5p, which compares very favourably with the 390.5p price when Ms. Bailey took the helm on 3 February 2003. As well as the £250m shares buyback - over three years - the full-year dividend was hiked over 10 per cent to 20.2p.
Turnover at Trinity's stable of regional titles grew 4.6 per cent last year, on an underlying basis, to £517.7m. Operating profit was 22 per cent higher at £147.7m.
At the nationals division - which includes Trinity's Scottish "nationals", The Daily Record and the Sunday Mail - turnover grew 3.8 per cent, compared to 2003, to £510.8m - despite a 6.9 per cent circulation volume decline at the Daily Mirror. Profits were 4.7 per cent better at £89.8m. Ms. Bailey said that there had been no recent approaches for the national titles but added that she had no objection, in principle, to selling these papers. "We don't feel emotional about assets," she said
Though the group's national newspapers are often seen as weak players in their market, Ms. Bailey insisted the titles are run more efficiently than competitors, with Trinity refusing to enter into cover price wars and spend large amounts on give-aways to "rent" readers.
She said: "Our margins are significantly better than those at Associated [Newspapers]."
Associated, the national newspaper division of Daily Mail & General Trust, publisher of the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday - which are strong circulation performers - made a very similar profit last year, of £90.3m, but on much higher turnover of £890m. Peter Williams, the finance director at DMGT, responded: "We don't mind having lower margins, as long as our papers are growing. We invest heavily in them. It's the absolute level of profit that interests us."
- 1 Hair loss explained: How and why men go bald
- 2 Game of Thrones season 6: Jon Snow theorists believe the Stark may have a twin sister
- 3 Artist takes LSD, draws herself over different stages of the 9-hour trip to show its effects
- 4 A pint of water every day is the key to losing weight, scientists say
- 5 Russia 'accidentally reveals' number of its soldiers killed in eastern Ukraine
Most expensive city to live in for expatriates: Luanda, Angola takes number one spot with Hong Kong and Zurich in top three
Video of Irish 'professional boxer' fighting Istanbul neighbourhood goes viral in Turkey
Irish tourist filmed fighting with shopkeepers in Turkey says they 'messed with the wrong man'
House of Lords: Outcry as donors, fixers and MPs caught up in expenses scandal get peerages
Moody neurotics are more likely to be creative geniuses, study says
Dresden riots: Protesters in Germany attack refugee buses shouting 'foreigners out'
France train shooting: US soldiers speak of the moment they stopped gunman and 'beat him until he was unconscious'
Labour leadership: Jeremy Corbyn accused of 'deluding' young supporters with 'claptrap'
'Women only' train carriages: Jeremy Corbyn unveils radical move to tackle public harassment
Black holes are a passage to another universe, says Stephen Hawking
Iain Duncan Smith calls for urgent ESA overhaul as part of drive to cut down welfare costs
iJobs Money & Business
£13000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Would you like to be part of a ...
£20000 - £25000 per annum + competitive: SThree: Are you passionate about sale...
£25000 per annum + benefits: Ashdown Group: A large financial services company...
£20400 per annum: Ashdown Group: An established and highly reputable organisat...