Reach profits fall as advertising market weakens
Reach, publisher of newspapers including the Daily Record, Sunday Mail and Daily Express, saw profits fall by about a quarter as the advertising market weakened.
It reported an adjusted pre-tax profit of £103.3 million from £143.5m in the previous year. Group revenue fell 2.3%.
Print revenue came in at £448.6m (FY21: £465.1m) down 3.5%, circulation and advertising were down 1.7% and 15.9% respectively.
The board proposes a final dividend of 4.46 pence per share, flat with 2021, with full year dividend of 7.34p up 1.8%
Jim Mullen, chief executive, said Reach is “becoming a fundamentally different business; more efficient, more digitally capable and more focused on building the foundation for growing sustainable and data led digital revenues.”
He said it was focused on an “increasing proportion of higher yielding digital revenue and a decreasing reliance on open market programmatically driven advertising.”
He added: :”We expect uncertain macroeconomic conditions to persist during 2023 but, as shown during the pandemic, we are effective at managing them, with an action plan in place to help mitigate the current headwinds.
‘We will continue to invest in areas which support digital expansion, such as the US, where we’ll leverage our scale and apply the proven Customer Value Strategy playbook which is positioning us favourably to benefit when economic conditions improve.
“The current trading environment remains challenging and we expect this to continue in 2023, with sustained inflation and suppressed market demand for digital advertising. Although input costs remain elevated, we are confident that our cost action plan will enable us to deliver a 5-6% like for like reduction in our operating cost base for FY23.
“Trading for January and February has been in line with our expectations.
“As anticipated, we have continued to see a decline in demand for digital advertising, with open market yields and traffic down across the whole sector, against stronger prior year comparators, particularly during the earlier part of the year (digital revenue H1’22 up 5.4%; H2’22 down 2.7%).”
Circulation revenue continues to benefit from increased cover price activity during the second half of FY22, with print trends overall, similar to Q4’22 and in line with expectations. For the year to date; digital revenue year over year was down 11.9%, print down 3.6% and circulation up 1.8%. Total Group revenue was down 5.8%.
Profit expectations for the full year are in line with the current market consensus.