INM predicts profits of up to £196m in 2010

Independent News & Media said yesterday that it was targeting operating profits before exceptional items of between €220m (£192m) and €225m (£196m) in 2010.

Operating profit is up around ten per cent year on year on group revenues which were up by 1.2 per cent in the twelve months to the end of October, the company said in an interim management statement.

Total advertising revenue at the company was up 1.7 per cent in the same period, circulation revenue fell 0.8 per cent as operating costs reduced by 0.2 per cent.

INM, which publishes the Belfast Telegraph and Sunday World and runs a variety of media businesses in Ireland, Australia and South African, said year-on-year underlying revenue trends to the end of October were marginally better than those previously reported for the six months to the end of June.

However, INM warned that trading conditions still remained challenging and again suggested that advertising visibility was still ‘very short-term”.

‘Despite still generally challenging macro-economic conditions, each of our market-leading newspaper titles remains very profitable and cash generative, and critically, all publishing divisions continue to gain market share from our competitors,’the company said.

‘The group continues to judiciously invest in its market-leading franchises with new products and other market innovations, in both print and online; with new iPhone and iPad application launches, new compact editions in our Irish regional markets, and other new product launches.”

INM said ‘significant and sustainable’operating cost reductions over the last three years had left it in a position to benefit from a cyclical economic recovery, when it occurs, through incremental revenue and profit growth and further debt pay down.

The sale of INM’s London-based newspapers – The Independent and The Independent on Sunday – to Russian billionaire Alexander Lebedev in April brought the company a total loss of €16.6m (£13.6m) but freed it from any future liabilities.

This payment and other exceptional losses were offset in the first half of the company’s financial year by gains made through the sale of holdings in Indian newspaper business Jagran Prakashan which brought INM £34.5m, which it used to pay down its net debt.

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