Pounds 341,000 profits for Independent: Newspaper Publishing reviews a difficult period and the background to talks with Lonrho

NEWSPAPER Publishing, the owner of the Independent and the Independent on Sunday, made profits of about pounds 341,000 in the six months to the end of March on a turnover of just over pounds 41m. The figure compares with full year profits of pounds 28,000 to the end of September and pounds 465,000 in the same period last year.

The results reflect a pounds 39,000 write-off in respect of the cost of feasibility studies for a new French daily which would be produced in conjunction with three other European newspapers: Le Monde in France, Spain's El Pais and Italy's La Repubblica. The latter two groups also have shares in Newspaper Publishing.

Sir Ralf Dahrendorf, chairman of Newspaper Publishing, described the six months covered by the report as 'eventful'. It had been a particularly difficult trading period 'but we have emerged from it with a profit and no bank borrowings'. Sales of the Sunday newspaper continued to improve, with the average circulation rising from 378,000 to just over 400,000. A cover price increase in February from 80p to 90p had led to a slight initial drop in circulation, but Sir Ralph said this was not expected to hinder the longer-term progress of the title.

Advertising suffered from the devaluation of sterling following its exit from the exchange rate mechanism last September, with revenues from display advertising in the daily newspaper dropping by 13 per cent.

But the reasonable performance of other categories, combined with the fact that display advertising had started to stabilise after December, limited the overall fall to 9 per cent. The company detects signs of improvement in the market with revenues in March higher than the equivalent month in 1992.