Bristol Evening Post holds final dividend: Publisher says recovery will be slow

THE Bristol Evening Post, which last month saw off the soft porn publisher David Sullivan, yesterday held the final dividend, warning that recovery would be slow and that advertising revenues were 'erratic'.

Pre-tax profits grew by 22 per cent to pounds 4.1m in the year to 31 March after applying the new FRS3 accounting rules. Without restating prior years, however, profits were flat and down from pounds 4.8m two years ago.

Newspaper advertising revenues have fallen year-on-year in four of the first eight weeks of the new financial year, and risen in four. A flat final dividend of 7.75p makes a total of 11.75p, up by 0.25p.

Reorganisation, which cut 122 people from the payroll, cost pounds 1.78m. A pounds 364,000 charge for the 'reduction in value of intangible assets' was taken above the line. There was also a profit of pounds 1.64m on the sale of investments.

Over the past three years BEP, which owns a chain of newsagents and a distribution arm as well as the flagship newspaper, has reduced its staff by 240, costing a one-off pounds 5.3m, but yielding annual savings of pounds 3.7m.

The bulk of Mr Sullivan's 10.2 per cent holding, which he sold last month, is thought to have passed into the hands of institutional investors including Mercury Asset Management and a pension fund client of Hill Samuel.

During the year revenues from newspaper publishing fell from pounds 34.1m to pounds 33m, with the main categories of advertising and circulation down.

Sales in the retail division grew slightly from pounds 25.2m to pounds 25.6m despite a reduction in the number of shops. Turnover in other divisions, including transport and film production, was flat.

Earnings per share grew to 11p from a restated 9.8p. Before the FRS3 restatement they were 12.4p in 1991/92 and 13.5p in 1990/91.

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