Yell shares surge as it pledges its future to digital media

YELLOW-PAGES publisher Yell plans to increase its presence in digital media in a bid to counter a chronic decline in its print business.

It yesterday posted pre-tax profit of £66.3m, compared with £70.3m last year. Revenue fell 12.4 per cent to £1.9bn.

However, while print revenue dropped by 18.6 per cent, digital media revenue grew by 9.4 per cent.

Chief executive Mike Pocock, who took control of the firm in January, said: “You will see that digital will be approximately three quarters of our business by 2015, versus 25 per cent as it is today.”

Chief financial officer Tony Bates said the firm will attempt to pay down some of its mammoth debt pile this year. Yell, which narrowly avoided insolvency in 2009, has net debt of £2.8bn, about 17 times its current market value of £167m.

Bates expects Yell, which also runs units in the US, Latin America and Spain, to pay down around £200m of debt this year, saying: “We expect the business will continue to throw a significant amount of cash this year.”

Yell shares, which have lost more than half of their value since the beginning of the year, surged 6.6 per cent yesterday to close at 7.13p.