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Independent News and Media back in the black

Independent News and Media is back in the black with pre-tax profits of €63m for the first six months of the year, its latest financial results have shown.

The half-yearly results for the group, which publishes the Belfast Telegraph and Sunday Life, show it returned to profits, after a pre-tax loss of €48.5m for the same period last year.

Revenues were up 7.8pc from €608.8m to €656.5m, while operating profit not including exceptional items was up 29.2pc to €94.6m.

For the Island of Ireland division, covering all its titles in the North and South of Ireland, revenue was down 3.3pc to €204.1m but operating profit before exceptional items was up by 0.1pc to €26.5m.

At the Belfast Telegraph Group, advertising revenues were down 2.2pc year-on-year, with a growth in the online, local and property categories but a decline in recruitment and national advertising.

The report says the Belfast Telegraph also had an outsourcing of editorial and finance back-office activities during the first half of the year.

The group sold The Independent and Independent on Sunday in April to Alexander Lebedev, owner of the London Evening Standard, but the results showed it made a €16.6m net loss on the sale.

Group chief executive officer Gavin O’Reilly said: “After an extremely difficult 2009, we’ve had a very good start to 2010, achieving a number of important milestones in revenue growth, market share, profitability and further deleveraging.

“As there have been a number of changes to our asset base, it is most pleasing to note an underlying 1pc increase in advertising and an improving trendline occurring in all of our markets, albeit at different speeds.

“All of our segments have contributed positively to our strong operating performance in the first half, with substantial operating leverage delivering double-digit year-on-year improvements in operating profit.”