A strong performance in digital revenues – which were up 23.4% – offset declines in both print and circulation to help Independent News & Media (INM) boost its overall revenues to €161.6m in the first six months of the year. This represented a 2.7% increase on the previous year. Pre-tax profits, however, were up by 22.5% to €18.5min the first half of the year, according to the group which published its half-year results today.
“Despite a challenging trading environment, the Group performed well in the first half of 2016, with profit before tax growth of 22.5% to €18.5 million. However, underlying operating profit growth of 3.1% better reflects the challenges the industry and INM face,” said Robert Pitt, group CEO.
“Overall Group revenues grew by 2.7%, driven by significant contributions from both digital and distribution revenue streams. The Group continued to generate positive cashflow and applied a portion thereof to the acquisitions of the remaining 50% shareholding in CarsIreland.ie and Greer Publications, reflecting INM’s belief that further consolidation is necessary in the industry in order to both protect shareholder value and the viability of smaller publications. While the outlook for H2 continues to be challenging, particularly in print advertising, the Group will continue to deal with those challenges pro-actively,” he added.
According to the group, online traffic across the independent.ie desktop and mobile platforms grew by 24% year on year, fuelled largely by strong mobile and app growth of 40 per cent.
The most recent ABC figures for the Island of Ireland, which were published last week, show that INM titles accounted for 50% of the daily newspaper market and 65% per cent of the Sunday market.
At the end of June, the group was also sitting on cash of €62.4m which it has earmarked for acquisitions, most likely in the digital space. In the first half of 2016, the company also bought out the remaining stake in CarsIreland.ie which did not own as well as a number of magazine titles which were previously published by Greer Publications in Belfast.