Ad revenues fall at Trinity Mirror

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Cuts in marketing budgets have hit revenues at Trinity Mirror, with the national and regional newspaper group on Thursday saying advertisements for houses, cars and jobs had fallen significantly.

In the 17 weeks to April 27, the group suffered an underlying fall in revenues of 2.7 per cent, with income from advertising down 4.3 per cent and circulation revenue down 1.2 per cent.

The company, which is attempting to shift its balance of business towards digital media reducing its dependence on print, said “we remain cautious about trading prospects” but said it had not changed its expectations for the full year. It expected the volatility in advertising to continue for the rest of the year.

Its regional papers, which include the Birmingham Mail and Liverpool Echo, suffered an underlying fall in revenue from property adverts of 11.5 per cent and for job adverts of 4.9 per cent. On an actual basis revenue from car adverts fell 16.3 per cent.

Overall, advertising in the regionals fell 4.9 per cent on an underlying basis, with the rate of decline worsening in March and April.

In its national titles, which include the Daily and Sunday Mirror and the Daily Record in Scotland, the decline in revenues slackened in the later months, but was down 2.9 per cent overall. The drop was worse for the Scottish titles, down 5.2 per cent, but a lesser 2 per cent for the UK papers.

Digital revenues rose by 26.5 per cent on an underlying basis, and with the benefit of acquisitions were up 44.1 per cent.

Trinity Mirror said it was raising cover prices on a “little and often” basis, but no increase had been made for the Monday to Friday national papers. Rises in weekend paper prices had failed to offset lower sales.

Last year the group sold a number of its titles, and is making acquisitions of “new media” businesses. It is using part of the sale proceeds to fund a share buy-back programme and has so far spent £98.6m of the £175m plan, in buying 31.4m shares.

The group has also been cutting costs and said it was on track to achieve the last £7m of its £20m savings plan by the end of 2008.

Analysts said the performance was as weak as expected. Andrew Walsh of Landsbanki said the statement was no more cautious than the one Trinity Mirror made with its annual figures in February.

The media team at Numis Securities trimmed their forecasts, which had been at the top of the range of expectations, from an estimate of profits before tax of £157m to £150m, compared to £168.2m in 2007.

The shares, which have tumbled from a peak of 574½p at the end of May last year, closed up 12½p at 273¼p.

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