Northcliffe parent company Daily Mail & General Trust is reporting record profits for the year.
In the 12 months ending September 30, Northcliffe Media has achieved its targeted annual cost savings of £45m and improved its operating margin to 21 per cent.
According to the preliminary results statement, across DMGT as a whole, group revenue for the year was £2,235m compared with £2,176m for the prior year, representing growth of three per cent.
Adjusted profits before tax were £288m, up 11 per cent on the equivalent figure for last year.
Operating profit was up seven per cent to £322m, with the operating margin improved from 13.8 per cent to 14.4 per cent. More than half of this year’s operating profit was generated outside the group’s print newspaper titles, up from 47 per cent last year.
Chairman Lord Rothermere said the results reflected strong growth in business-to-business operations, and was due to key newspaper titles out-performing the market in both circulation and advertising revenue.
The figures were also thanks to a “revitalised Northcliffe local media division” which has integrated online and print media and improved margins despite flat revenues.
He said: “Northcliffe, our local media division, had a good year across its developed UK market. Its position as an integrated local media publisher, combined with its business improvement programme, has produced a good profit performance despite flat revenues.
“Our local media titles are continuing to see improving advertising revenues in the key recruitment category, while property advertising is now broadly flat year on year. Northcliffe, as an integrated provider of local media services, is well positioned for 2008 and beyond.”
The local media businesses had a good year with underlying operating profits growing by 9 per cent, despite flat revenues.
Excluding the results of acquisitions and disposals, operating profits rose by £4.4m (six per cent) to £83.5m. Revenues of £376m were in line with last year while costs declined by almost £10m due to the business improvement programme.
Circulation revenues of £76m fell by one per cent.
In the January to June 2007 ABC period, Northcliffe’s daily evening titles, which represent 70 per cent of the circulation revenues, outperformed their peer group, with circulation down by 5.4 per cent, slightly better than the industry performance for this category.
Weeklies, however, were down by 5.2 per cent, behind the industry average. Investment in editorial and marketing are set to improve those figures.
Internet division Associated Northcliffe Digital showed strong growth from existing businesses and further acquisitions. Revenue grew by 46 per cent to £86m across core portals of jobs (Jobsite), property (Findaproperty and Primelocation) and motors (Motors.co.uk).