Price rise helps lift Telegraph

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The Independent Online
AN INCREASED cover price and a boom in car advertising helped The Telegraph, the owner of the Daily Telegraph, the Sunday Telegraph and the Spectator, to increase its pre-tax profits by pounds 2.5m to pounds 21.6m in the six months to 30 June.

Despite the rise in profits, earnings per share fell by 0.3p to 11.1p, because the company has used all the tax losses it accumulated in the early 1980s, before Conrad Black took control of the group. Its tax charge has returned to a level normal for UK companies.

The interim dividend is unchanged at 4.5p.

Joe Cooke, managing director of The Telegraph, said the rise in profits was due to increases in circulation revenue and advertising. Newspaper sales had not increased, but the cover price of the Daily Telegraph had been raised.

He said the group had suffered because of a fall in recruitment advertising but this had been more than made up by an increase in display advertising, particularly for motor vehicles.

The figures helped the company's shares, which were floated last month at 325p, to recover 16.5p to 292.5p, the highest level since flotation.

The news came as Mr Black, the chairman, reconfirmed his commitment to buying the New York Daily News, formerly owned by Robert Maxwell. The Daily News has been in bankruptcy protection since December.

Mr Black said he would buy the paper if the unions agreed to the large-scale staff cuts he has demanded. Union leaders said they were impressed with Mr Black's presentation and would ask the courts for a 10-day extension to the deadline for bids, to allow talks to continue.

If Mr Black's Canadian group, Hollinger, buys the Daily News it will offer a 50 per cent stake in the paper to The Telegraph.

However, Mr Cooke said yesterday that he was 'thankfully' not privy to the Daily News negotiations.