Irish-headquartered Independent News & Media yesterday posted annual results slightly lower than expectations, but expressed confidence in its prospects for further growth despite economic uncertainty.

The media group, which produces around twelve million newspapers around the world every week, announced a rise in pre-tax profit of 13% to 155.3m euros ($140.7m) for 2000, with a 15% jump in turnover to 1.34bn euros. In addition, operating profit increased 23% to 234m euros excluding online expenditure and exceptional costs, while earnings per share omitting exceptional items and amortisation surged 10.5% to 16.01 euro cents.

Independent saw its strongest revenue performance in the UK, aided by the £300m purchase last year of the Belfast Telegraph group. Circulation of its UK papers The Independent and the Independent on Sunday also reached its highest level since 1997, said the group.

Less satisfying were Antipodean results, with revenues finishing around 5% behind expectations in both Australia and New Zealand. In addition, Independent saw revenues in its native Ireland fall 2% behind forecasts.

The group added that it remains committed to extending its print titles onto the web, despite cuts in new media expenditure following the dotcom decline. Internet activities brought in 7.7m euros in revenue (some 0.6% of total turnover), leaving a loss of 10m euros, a figure below expectations and down from 2.8m euros in 1999.

News Source: CampaignLive (UK)