Australian newspaper publisher John Fairfax Holdings is benefiting from a rebound in ad sales after two years of decline.

The group – owner of the Sydney Morning Herald and the Australian Financial Review – revealed that revenues began rising again in its fiscal second quarter (ended December), and that business in the first few weeks of 2003 has continued to show year-on-year gains.

“Display revenues accounted for the majority of the [ad] improvement,” declared chief executive Fred Hilmer. “Classifieds also improved.”

For its full first half, Fairfax posted a 94% surge in net earnings to A$70 million ($41m; €38m; £26m) on the back of cost-cutting and falling online losses. Sales rose 2.6% to A$619m.

Despite such growth, Hilmer added a cautionary word: “It is still too early to forecast the result for the full year with any accuracy, especially with the continuing uncertainty in the international situation.”

Data sourced from: Financial Times; additional content by WARC staff