(Recasts, adds shares, details)
Feb 3 Johnston Press Plc, the publisher
of the Scotsman, said trading towards the end of 2016 improved
as it posted a 1 percent rise in fourth-quarter revenue aided by
strong sales of its "i" and Yorkshire Post titles.
The 250-year-old company said signs of business confidence
were improving as quarterly revenue returned to growth after
contracting 5 percent in the previous quarter in the "immediate
aftermath" of Britons' June vote to leave the European Union.
The company said that strong circulation revenues from the
"i" title has offset the decline in circulation revenue from
other newspapers in its stable.
Johnston has over 200 titles across the country and acquired
Independent Print's "i" newspaper for 24 million pounds last
year to tap into i's growing circulation revenue and advertising
The newspaper industry has been hammered in recent years as
advertisers have followed readers to online platforms, forcing
print publishers such as Trinity Mirror and Daily Mail
and General Trust to cut costs drastically.
Edinburgh-based Johnston has been focusing on particular
regions and betting on its new national advertising network,
1XL, to return to revenue growth.
However, the company warned that it is seeing higher costs
from imported paper and ink due to weakness in sterling after
the Brexit vote.
Total revenue for the year to Dec. 31 was down 6 percent as
the advertising squeeze continued, Johnston said.
Total print and digital advertising revenue, excluding
classifieds, for the year was down 7 percent.
Analysts at Liberum, in a client note, said that Johnston
Press has seen significant improvements in trends across the
board in the fourth quarter.
The brokerage adds that the company has applied strict cost
discipline. It has a "buy" rating on the stock.
Shares in the company were up 1.6 percent at 0933 GMT.
(Reporting by Rahul B in Bengaluru; Editing by Adrian Croft)