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."
Top Un: North Korean dictator Kim Jong-Un is Maverick as he poses with all-female pilot crew of the Anti-Air Force Unit
Belle Knox: How the porn star student from Duke University became bigger than Justin Bieber
Top 10 most expensive cities in the world: Singapore named costliest place to live – but what about London?
Oscar Pistorius trial: Athlete 'cheated on me' with Reeva Steenkamp, former girlfriend Samantha Taylor tells Pretoria court
Channel 4 announces two-hour TV show to be broadcast 'Live from Space' later this month
Apple's Tim Cook: Business isn’t just about making profit
Thousands of young people forced to go without food after benefits wrongly stopped under 'draconian' new sanctions regime
Ukraine crisis: New navy chief 'defects' and surrenders Crimean HQ as Putin claims ultranationalists forced intervention
Britain's top vet sparks controversy with call for ban on slashing animals' throats in 'ritual' slaughters for halal and kosher meat products
Ukraine crisis: Russia dismisses '3am ultimatum' as 'total nonsense'
If you're horrified by a flame-roasted dog, you should be shocked at a hog roast
- 1 The future of sex: The first female condoms were derided, mistrusted and shunned - but will their modern counterparts catch on?
- 2 South African rhino finally put down after roaming Kruger park for days with horn hacked off and bullet in brain
- 3 Italian pensioner hires an escort who turns out to be his son's girlfriend
- 4 Orgasm machine to deliver climax at the push of a button
- 5 Liam Neeson turned down James Bond role to marry Natasha Richardson
iJobs Money & Business
£12000 per annum: Inspiring Interns: The company works with Tier 1 FTSE 100 Ba...
£32000 - £36000 per annum + generous benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: * TAX * ...
£37000 - £40000 per annum + £20000 benefits package: Pro-Recruitment Group: **...
£30000 - £35000 per annum + generous benefits: Pro-Recruitment Group: Mixed Ta...