Trinity Mirror on Thursday launched a strategic review of its businesses as the UK newspaper publisher reported a fall in first half profits linked to the downturn in advertising revenues.
Analysts speculated that the company could decide to sell its national titles, although no preliminary approaches have been made. “Nothing has been ruled in or ruled out,” Sly Bailey, chief executive, said on Thursday. “We haven’t taken a specific view on any particular outcome.”
Adjusted pre-tax profits fell to £98.1m ($184.2m) in the six months to July 2, compared with £112.5m in the same period a year earlier. Revenue slipped 2.2 per cent to £566.6m during the first half.
Trinity said the fall in revenue was the result of a “challenging” advertising environment. It said falling GDP growth, sluggish consumer spending and rising unemployment were all factors that had affected all advertising categories except property.
“These market conditions are impacting all advertising categories with the exception of property advertising, where we continue to achieve marginal growth despite very tough comparables for 2005,” the company said.
Trinity said that the review of its businesses, operating models and structure would help determine the best way to take the group forward in the face of challenges created by continued change in the media market.
The outcome of the review will be reported by the end of the year, Trinity said.
Trinity said that the difficult advertising market was expected to continue into the second half of 2006. “Despite these challenges, the board expects performance to be in line with current expectations,” it said.
Analysts at Numis said in a note that Thursday’s interim results were ahead of expectations. “Trinity Mirror is facing structural, cyclical and competitive challenges although it has a forward-looking management team who are facing up to the difficult markets in which the group operates. The strategic review could be far-reaching and thereby prove a catalyst for the shares going forwards.”
“In our view, all strategic options are open, including splitting the group into regional and national assets.”
The shares were up 6.3 per cent to 475p in mid-morning trade.