Trinity Mirror pays first dividend in six years despite supermarket ad spend slowdown

Lynsey Barber
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The figures

The publisher of the Daily Mirror, Sunday Mirror and Sunday People has turned in a full-year adjusted profit of £102.3m, a slight uptick of one per cent on the previous year.

Revenue for the year to 28 December fell to £636.3m from £663.8m, a fall of 4.1 per cent on the previous year, but a slowdown on declines of six per cent a year before.

Print ad revenue declined, falling by 6.3 per cent to £521.6m while digital revenue grew by 47.3 per cent to £32.4m as average monthly uniques grew 87 per cent on 2013, to 73.2m.

Print declines were driven by a slowdown in retail advertising, in particular, supermarket spend, the publisher said.

Net debt was reduced by £77.7m, to £19.3m and it will pay its first dividend since 2008 of a proposed three pence per share.

Why it's interesting

Trinity Mirror has been making provisions to cover the costs of settling phone-hacking claims against its national Mirror Group titles, now totaling £12m. A pre-emptive warning of the rise from the £8m previously set aside gave investors a heads up, but there's still some uncertainty whether new claims will be made and that cash pile will have to be raised even further.

Away from that potential looming spectre, elsewhere the publisher of a host of local titles across Britain and new Buzzfeed-esque websites has a more positive outlook, with adjusted profits coming in slightly ahead of forecast as expected - despite a continued fall in ad revenue along with all major newspaper publishers.

Chief executive Simon Fox continues to live up to the "turnaround king" name.

What Trinity Mirror said

Continued focus on digital investment and growth combined with print market outperformance and tight management of the cost base including further targeted structural cost savings of £10m in 2015. The board expects performance for 2015 to be in line with expectations.

In Short

In line with most publishers, ad revenue is declining, but digital revenue is growing along with its online audience as its bets on new formats pays off. It means while Trinity Mirror may not appear at first spectacular, for a legacy print publisher it's doing pretty well, as evidenced by its first dividend payment in years.

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