Guardian Media Group results reveal “challenging” year for newspaper divisions

The Guardian Media Group plc has announced operating profit down from £116.4m in 2006 to £105.2m on turnover up to £716.m compared with £700.3m in 2006.

Pre-tax profit from continuing operations has risen from £66.4m in 2006 to £97.7m for the year to April.

Chairman of GMG Paul Myners said: ‘In a difficult operating environment characterised by increasing evidence of structural change in UK media markets, GMG has been at the forefront in recognising and responding to those changes. The Group has delivered a solid financial performance in line with our expectations for the year.”

Guardian News and Media reduced its operating loss before exceptional items to £15.9m, down from a loss of £19.3 million in 2006, with an increase in turnover from £237.4m in 2006 to £245.7m.

GNM’s digital revenues, from both display and recruitment advertisers, grew 49 per cent year on year.

GMG Regional Media suffered from a dip in profits, blamed on ‘challenging advertising market conditions”. Operating profit before exceptional items was down to £19.4m, compared with £21.6m in 2006, on a turnover of £122.2 million, down from £126.8m in 2006.

Trader Media Group, which includes Autotrader magazine, delivered operating profit down from £119.5m in 2006 to £104.6m. Some 49.9 per cent of TMG was sold to Apax Partners in March this year.

On a turnover at TMG was up three per cent to £312.5m, the profit dip was blamed on the cost of new acquisitions, start-ups and business restructuring.

GMG Radio operating profit was £3.5m, up from £2.7m in 2006. The statutory operating profit for the division saw a loss – down from £2.7 million in 2006 to £1.9m – on a turnover that increased from £27.9 million in 2006 to £35.7 million.

Taking into account acquisitions, total listening hours per week at the beginning of April 2007 were 46 million.

Chief executive of GMG, Carolyn McCall, said that they are committed to investing in the future of journalism and that they will continue to pursue more acquisitions.

She said: ‘Over the past year we have made significant changes to all our businesses in order to meet the new demands of our markets. The stability of GMG’s financial performance is testament to the success of our approach.

‘The sale of a minority stake in Trader Media Group has rebalanced our portfolio and delivered a substantial return. We will actively pursue acquisition opportunities in the year ahead as we continue to reshape our business.”

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