Johnston Press Reports Cheering Financial Results

The publishers of The Scotsman newspaper has registered a cheering increase in its profits, despite a drop in its revenue – according to interim financial figures issued today.

Covering the 26 weeks up to the third of last month, the results show Johnston Press – one of the largest newspaper groups in the UK – see its revenue drop 5.2 per cent on this time last year, from £218.6 million to £207.3 million.

But the good news for the group is to be found in its profits. 'Operating profit before non-recurring items' was up 5.9 per cent, from £38.2 million to £40.5 million. It meant a pre-tax loss of £94.2 million last year became a £26.1 pre-tax profit this year. Indeed, says the company, it enjoyed its “first operating profit increase since the first half of 2006″.

The group also reported a slowing down of the rate of decline in advertising revenue. During the first half of last year, the decline was 32.7 per cent; during the second half of last year, 18.1 per cent; and during the first half of this year, 6.3 per cent.

Added Johnston: “Total costs for the first 26 weeks of 2010 were £13.6 million lower than the comparable prior year period.”

Said chief executive, John Fry: “In the first half, the group achieved an operating profit before non-recurring items of £40.5 million up from £38.2 million in the prior year. This represents our first operating profit increase reported since 2006.

“As we move into the second half of the year, we have seen the improving trend in advertising revenues continue with total advertising in the first six weeks on a like-for-like basis only down 3.7 per cent. Within this performance digital revenues grew by 9.7 per cent. 

” Circulation revenues in July have also performed well and are down only 1.6 per cent. These industry leading trends which demonstrate the strength of our publishing portfolio along with our continued focus on costs, efficiencies and debt reduction, give the board confidence, in the absence of a further deterioration in the UK economy, that the outcome for the group in 2010 will be in line with current market expectations.”