Reach plc, the media publisher that owns the Daily Mirror and Daily Express, has reported a 5.3% fall in its full year revenue.
Revenue was £702.5m (2018: £723.9m) benefiting from a full year of trading of the Express & Star acquisition.
Like-for-like revenue fell by 5.3%, versus a fall of 6.6% in 2018; with resilient circulation revenue and stronger digital growth, the publisher said.
Pre-tax profit surge
However, the firm swung to a pre-tax profit of £120m versus a loss of almost the same amount for 2018.
Despite the revenue fall, Reach said performance in digital was strong. Like-for-like revenue increased by 13.2% (up 16.4% in H2); and average worldwide monthly page views growing by 25% year on year to 1.3bn (up 34% in H2)
The company also said significant cost efficiencies were achieved during the year. These included structural cost savings of £12m and incremental acquisition synergies of £16m.
Investors rewarded with dividend hike
The London-listed firm said it would pay shareholders a final dividend of 4.05 pence per share, an increase of 7.4%. This means a total dividend for the year of 6.55 pence per share (2018: 6.14 pence per share), up 6.7%.
“I was delighted to join Reach in August 2019 and have been impressed by the relentless focus on producing award-winning journalism and content that shapes national and regional conversations”, said Reach CEO Jim Mullen.
“These are strong foundations on which to invest and innovate to ensure a sustainable future for our trusted brands.
“2019 was a year of good operational and solid financial progress with record growth in audience numbers, consistently good cash generation and a strong balance sheet.
“This, along with unparalleled scale, underpins our drive to build an intelligent, relevant and trusted content business for the long term whilst continuing to deliver for our stakeholders.
“Content is at the heart of the new customer value strategy we are announcing today.
“We have an unmatched reach in UK media and will deepen our relationships via increased customer engagement.
“Through this, we see significant potential to accelerate the diversification of our digital revenue and capture more value to deliver on our sustainable digital growth ambitions.”
Reach’s shares were trading 4.2% lower on Monday morning at £1.70.