Friday 28 August 2009

Johnston Press reports profits down 56 per cent

Profits at Johnston Press fell by 56.1 per cent to £27.5 million in the first six months of 2009, its interim report reveals today.
Johnston chief executive officer John Fry commented:"The timing of the economic upturn remains uncertain but advertising revenues are demonstrating greater stability and we expect the cyclical improvement when it comes to more than compensate any ongoing structural change. We will maintain our focus on costs and look to secure additional operating efficiencies during the second half of the year."
The company said that in the first half of 2009, trading has been significantly impacted by the recession in the UK and Republic of Ireland. "Notwithstanding this, the business has returned an operating margin of 17.5% in the period, realised cost savings of 15.0% and reduced net debt by £52.8 million to £424.0 million."
It added: "Negotiations with our lenders have been completed and have resulted in a new facility being agreed. This facility provides a stable financial platform, allowing the Group to actively manage through the current cycle.
On advertising, the company said: "As the UK (and Republic of Ireland) tipped into recession during the second quarter of 2008, we saw an immediate change in our advertising trends. Advertising became progressively more difficult throughout the year with advertising declines hitting their worst point in January 2009. Since then, we have seen a stabilising trend in the advertising environment with the first quarter down 34.0% and a slight improvement in the second quarter, down 31.4%. As we have now passed the point at which declines started to accelerate in 2008, we expect a reduction in year-on-year declines during the rest of this year."

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