The Irish Times Ltd records pretax profit of €5.4m for 2013

Company’s advertising income to grow this year for first time since 2007

The Irish Times Ltd  recorded an operating profit of €2.7 million in 2013, up from €1.7 million a year earlier. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

The Irish Times Ltd recorded an operating profit of €2.7 million in 2013, up from €1.7 million a year earlier. Photograph: Cyril Byrne

 

The Irish Times Ltd made a pretax profit of €5.4 million in 2013 as group revenues rose 3.6 per cent to €84.4 million.

Higher income from contract printing during the year more than offset a 4.3 per cent decline in newspaper advertising revenue and a 5 per cent drop in circulation revenue.

The company recorded an operating profit of €2.7 million, up from €1.7 million a year earlier. A gain on the dilution of its shareholding in the Gazette Group Newspapers and a past service credit on the company pension schemes contributed to an exceptional credit of €2 million.

The Irish Times began printing titles previously owned by Thomas Crosbie Holdings in March 2013 after the group went into receivership. The resulting rise in contract print revenues “underpinned the results for the year as a whole”, said Liam Kavanagh, managing director of The Irish Times Ltd.

The pretax profit compares to a loss of about €325,000 before tax in 2012. Market conditions remained “challenging” during 2013, though the company did “reasonably well” in advertising and increased its market share.

Turning to this year, Mr Kavanagh said the outlook was brighter. “We will see growth in advertising revenues in 2014 over 2013, and that will be the first annual increase in total advertising since 2007. The old reliables – property and recruitment – have done well for us this year,” he said.

Online advertising

While advertising revenues are expected to rise just slightly overall, income from online advertising has increased 40 per cent this year.

The company says it is on track to earn about €8 million in digital revenues this year, including digital edition subscription income, which equates to about 13 per cent of total publishing revenues. This share is up from 8-9 per cent last year.

The digital revenues are “something to build on”, Mr Kavanagh said, citing the launch of new regular podcasts, the use of live blogs and an increase in video journalism as examples of content that has brought in non-newspaper readers to The Irish Times. “They are becoming a much bigger part of what we do.”

‘Digital pass’

By the end of 2014, the company will have the technical platform in place to enable “digital pass” subscription offers on its website. Mr Kavanagh said it was likely this metered paywall for Irish Times content would be launched in the first half of 2015. “It is just one element of us building content-led digital revenues,” he said. A new free mobile app with a more extensive range of content will be unveiled shortly, while a Political Digest email newsletter will join the recently added Business Digest service.

The Irish Times Ltd has no net debt, and the group balance sheet shows its cash reserves stood at €11.9 million at the end of 2013, up from €11.2 million a year earlier.

A decision on the future of its defined benefit pension schemes is expected to be made in the next few weeks. The deficit on the schemes was reduced by €7.8 million during 2013 due to a good investment performance.

In 2013, the company employed an average of 450 people, up from 447 a year earlier.

Mr Kavanagh was paid a salary of €270,000, while the editor of The Irish Times, Kevin O’Sullivan, earned €240,000, and the deputy editor, Denis Staunton, was paid €150,000.

David Went, the former chairman of The Irish Times Ltd, was paid €67,000. Mr Went was succeeded by Dan Flinter at the beginning of 2014. Tom Arnold, the chairman of The Irish Times Trust Limited, was paid a fee of €31,000.

When the company’s share of joint ventures is included, revenues grew 2.4 per cent last year to €87.6 million. Beyond The Irish Times newspaper and website, the group’s interests include property website MyHome.ie, a 50 per cent stake in magazine publisher Gloss Publications Limited and a 31.7 per cent interest in Entertainment Media Networks, the publisher of Entertainment.ie.