Yell shouted down by its shareholders

Steve Dinneen
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YELL Group tanked 13.5 per cent yesterday after seeing its profits and revenues for the first quarter slide.

Weakness in its print division continues to hurt the Yellow Pages directories publisher, with revenue falling 11 per cent to £383.3m, and Ebitda down £20.2m to £109m.

Print and other directory revenue fell 19 per cent, while digital services revenue more than doubled in the quarter ended 30 June.

A company spokesman told City A.M. the results are in line with management forecasts.

Yell, which was relatively slow to adapt to the shift to online advertising, is battling competition from a host of new online services offering local information, and from online giants such as Google which offer global advertising solutions.

Last Thursday, the company set out a recovery plan that focuses on a digital strategy it says will help it return to growth in four year’s time. However, analysts remain unconvinced, with its shares losing a fifth of their value on the day the plan was unveiled.

Yell shares have lost nearly a third of their value since then. They closed at just 6.48p last night, valuing the company at about £176m.

The firm, which narrowly avoided insolvency in 2009 and had net debt of £2.83bn at 31 March, is exploring options for its debt pile and has already been talking to its major lenders.

Last week it agreed to buy US technology start-up Znode for $20m, pushing its shares up nine per cent.

Yell says Znode gives it e-commerce technology it can use to connect small businesses with consumers on a local level. It will be incorporated into the group as part of a new division, called Yell Connect.