Maiden bullish in face of dire results

Maiden has blamed 'difficult times in outdoor' for dire first-half results.

Maiden has blamed 'difficult times in outdoor' for dire first-half

results.



Attempting to counter bad news with bullish promises of a record

second-half, chief executive Ron Zeghibe announced sales are down from

pounds 31.8 million to pounds 29.3 million. More worrying still was the

pre-tax loss of pounds 918,000, a dramatic drop from the previous

period's pounds 3.5 million profit.



Zeghibe said it had been a grim trading period: 'We're happy to have

escaped this downturn and are able to look forward to a fantastic second

half. Since the World Cup there has been a lot of talk about recession,

and advertisers still conserve their outdoor budgets at such times.'



Quoting Outdoor Advertising Association figures he added: 'Industry

estimates showed a decline of 0.3 per cent for the market as a whole,

but this disguised movements within the three main roadside formats

where 48-sheets saw a total revenue drop of 16 per cent and 96-sheets

dropped 2.7 per cent.'



Zeghibe also pointed out that the car manufacturers had cut their spend

in the first half by 20 per cent due to uncertainty over registration

dates and the holding back of new model launches until 2000.



Other industry sources suggested the picture was not as black as Zeghibe

painted it. But he hit back furiously: 'Everyone else puts a more

positive spin on the story. They talk it up while I have to be honest

because we're a public company.'



Maiden claimed the second half would 'better than any half-year

performance in history'. Previous half-year profit margins have run as

high as 16 per cent. 'It certainly has been a year of two halves,' said

Steve Wilson, managing director of Blade.





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