Highlights as reported by National World:
Commenting on the results, Chairman David Montgomery, said: “We are pleased with the progress in transitioning the Group to a fully digitised multi-platform premium content and sales business. We have identified further opportunities to improve efficiency that will underpin future investment in new products, audiences and the enhancement of our heritage assets.
“Beyond organic opportunities to grow the business there are a number of investment and acquisition opportunities management is pursuing that would accelerate the Group’s progress.
“Following an encouraging start to 2023 we look ahead to a year of accelerating change combined with sustained profitability.”
- Strong balance sheet with significant financial flexibility, closing cash balance of £27.0 million at 31 December 2022 (2021: £23.0 million).
- Robust revenue with a marginal decline of 2% with strong digital revenue growth of 26%, partially offsetting a 7% decline in print revenue.
- Annualised costs savings of £4.0 million, £1.0 million ahead of target, with restructuring costs of £3.3 million expensed in the period.
- Maiden dividend of 0.5 pence per share subject to shareholder approval.
- Video enters the forefront of content creation with 250 journalists fully trained. 43% year-on-year growth with 357 million video views in 2022, and doubling of video revenue.
- Over 111 million average monthly page views and 42 million average monthly unique users across over 60 news sites.
- Creation of an expanded exclusively online City World division to 16 sites in early 2023, providing full coverage of the key cities in England and Scotland.
- Launch of the Peopleworld and 3addedminutes websites, and a US version of nationalworld.com creating a global footprint for the business.
- Investment of US$1.25 million in social-first media company, The News Movement, in October 2022 to accelerate development of content for target demographics via growth platforms such as TikTok.
- Digital acquisitions of independent digital football websites owned by publisher ScoopDragon and video-first content innovator, NewsChain completed in December 2022.
- To strengthen the management team John Rowe was appointed as an executive director on 24 February 2023. The board is actively recruiting a new non-executive director and intends to appoint a senior independent director in 2023.
Current trading and outlook
The Group has accelerated the implementation of its new operating model to restore sustainable growth.
Continuing strong digital revenue bucked the trend compared with some peers in January and February with a 9% year on year increase matched by audience growth of 9%. This is before the benefit of acquired Scoopdragon and Newschain sites which are expected to add over 10% audience improvement.
Despite total revenue being down 9% year on year, due to economic conditions, we have met our EBITDA target for January and February. Trading is expected to remain challenging for the first half. However, management continues to innovate to address the headwinds faced across the industry, including revenue initiatives, while transitioning to a digital only operational model providing customers with quality and original content across all genres and platforms. The Group maintains its performance expectations for the year.
The full results can be seen here.Keep up-to-date with publishing news: sign up here for InPubWeekly, our free weekly e-newsletter.