Despite suffering a year-on-year drop in readership of more than 17 per cent, Emap will be encouraged by the title's 1.8 per cent period-on-period increase, which gives it almost double the circulation of its nearest rival Loaded.
FHM's publishing director, James Carter, said: "There has been a trend toward cover promotions in this sector recently, but we've only promoted three out of every 12 issues, looking instead to invest in being different and keeping things fresh in terms of content and packaging."
IPC's Loaded continued its recovery, with a very small rise in readership, while the last period's whipping boy, Maxim, has steadied the ship by reducing its circulation loss to only 2.3 per cent.
With second-tier titles Bizarre, GQ and Front all suffering significant losses, it seems that stability is the best the lads' mags can hope for.
Only Men's Fitness has achieved a growth in circulation worth shouting about. However, the overall sales for men's mags were up by almost 12 per cent for this period.
VERDICT: Overdue good news for FHM, and on the whole this sector seems to have avoided the huge circulation losses it suffered in the last ABCs.
However, whether this new-found stability is the beginning of a men's mag renaissance remains to be seen.
TITLE PUBLISHER TOTAL ABC PERIOD ON YEAR ON
PERIOD % YEAR
FHM Emap 580,738 1.8 -17.10
Loaded IPC 309,041 0.10 1.2
Maxim Dennis 270,159 -2.30 -11.40
Men's Health Rodale Press 216,983 0.7 1.8
Front Cabal 140,599 -8.5 -7.5
Wallpaper IPC 131,075 -0.70 -1.70
GQ Conde Nast 116,380 -7.60 -2.10
Bizarre IFG 97,036 -7.80 -13.40
Esquire Nat Mags 62,005 0.00 0.00
Stuff Haymarket 56,571 1.70 N/A
The Face Emap 52,119 -5.80 -13.30
Men's Fitness Dennis 50,056 7.50 8.10
Arena Emap 38,326 0.40 -23.60
Source: Audit Bureau of Circulations (Jan-June 2002).