IPC reports profits rise and positive outlook

LONDON (Brand Republic) - Consumer publisher IPC Media said its interim pre-tax profits in the six months to March grew 81% to £3.8m on a 3.3% increase in turnover to £182.4m.

Circulation revenues climbed 0.8% and advertising sales grew 6.9% including the impact of launches and closures.

The company recently decided to fold woman's monthly Nova, which failed to meet targets with sales of 75,000. IPC also folded Women's Realm into Woman's Weekly to make way for a new title called Your Life, for the over-35s market.

The company said classified sales in its outdoor and country magazines such as Horse & Hound, Shooting Times and Country Homes & Interiors had been hit by the foot and mouth epidemic.

Looking ahead Sly Bailey, chief executive at IPC, said that while advertising revenue growth would be down from last year's 8% to around 5%-6% in 2001, in the current climate this amounted to a strong performance.

"Compared to radio and TV, it is an extraordinarily good performance. We are proving that weekly mass-market titles provide credible and cost effective alternative to reach key audience," she said.

IPC used the occasion of its interim results to confirm that its venture capitalist owner, Cinven, is to move ahead with plans to dispose of the business either through a sale or a flotation within the next 12 to 18 months.

Cinven paid £900m for its stake in IPC when it led a buyout, which was also backed by management, from Reed Elsevier in 1998.

Because of the current weakened advertising climate the company is valued at around £750m. It is thought unlikely that Cinven would look to sell the business until the market picks up despite its proposal to dispose of the company within five years of the buyout.

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