APN predicts profits will return

THE region’s third largest media group, APN News and Media, has predicted a profitable fiscal 2009, leveraging the completion of a capital expenditure and restructuring program.

CEO Brendan Hopkins told markets this morning he expected APN to report a profit of A$120 million in fiscal 09, recovering from a 2008 loss of A$24 million.

The loss was largely due to one-off items that included a significant write-down of its New Zealand assets.

Reporting the 08 number, Mr Hopkins said the company’s underlying profit had been A$140 million, which represents a 17.3 percent fall on the 07 result of A$169.5 million.

Brendan Hopkins ... cut costs

Brendan Hopkins ... cut costs

Previous investments in new print plants and workforce restructures would achieve a 7 percent drop in costs across APN’s trans-Tasman operations this year.

APN – the largest newspaper publisher in New Zealand – had been facing down its most “difficult times” since the company went public, Mr Hopkins said.

The New Zealand economy had been particularly painful although costs had been reduced. Australia had had its own challenges with “national advertisers electing to not proceed with planned campaigns”.

This had hurt the company at the end of last year and the softness in the market had continued into January and February.

However, Mr Hopkins said his company’s sales pipeline in its publishing division was “solid” for March. There was also reason for optimism in its outdoor and radio businesses.

He acknowledged the company had suffered revenue declines but said APN had grown or maintained market share. The company’s reported revenue was A$1.258 billion.

Earlier this year, APN’s 39.1 percent-shareholder, Independent News & Media, scrapped plans to offload its interests. The company has seen its share reduced by 54 percent this year, according to Reuters figures.

*APN is a member of PANPA. Its senior executive Martin Simons is a director.

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