Irish Press to pay dividend despite being €0.5m in red
IRISH Press plc will continue to pay dividends to shareholders despite plunging into the red to the tune of €541,000 last year, the company reported yesterday.
Publishing its annual report and accounts for 2007, the former publisher of the Irish Press newspaper titles, which ceased publication in 1995, said the "disappointing result has arisen from the inclusion of provisions for permanent loss of value in a number of trade and financial investments."
The group reported losses of €200,000 on its investment in Dublin-based International Securities Trading Corporation (ISTC) which it said was a victim of the credit crunch.
"Recovery in portfolio values will to a large extent depend on a recovery in financial bonds based on market fundamentals," group chairman Eamon de Valera said.
The other major loss came in its market research company, Minotaur Business Research Systems, which Dr de Valera said "failed to achieve its targets" and which was the subject of another €128,000 writeoff.
The research firm's business model is being reviewed after the downturn here was blamed on a drop in demand for market research in the retailer sector. Steps have been taken to cut operating costs but in the meantime the writeoff of the remaining goodwill in the business was considered "prudent."
Despite the bad news the chairman assured investors that Irish Press plc will be paying out an unchanged dividend of 15c a share for a total payout of €127,000. The group's highest profile investment is a 56pc share in TippFM, which was reported to have done well last year and into the first seven months of the current year. Thoms Directory made what was described as "an increased contribution" which it hopes to maintain into the current year.
Dr de Valera also reported the group has paid €400,000 to take a 51pc stake in M & C Publishing, the publisher of 'Medicine Weekly' and a roster of other medical publications.
As well as the weekly magazine for doctors, Dr De Valera said M & C publish a number of monthly, bi-monthly and quarterly publications for the healthcare industry.
"It is expected to make a positive contribution in 2008 and be a significant part of our business in the future," he told shareholders in the annual report.
Among the publications listed on M & C's website are 'Irish Psychiatrist', aimed at Irish doctors with an interest in psychiatry; the clinical journal 'Modern Medicine' and 'Hospital Doctor of Ireland' which reports to hospital clinicians on new findings in a broad spectrum of clinical areas.
Among the more specialised publications listed are the 'Diabeteswise', 'Cancerwise' and 'Osteowise' journals.
Irish Press plc bought a new office premises at 5-7 Clanwilliam Terrace in Dublin at the end of 2007.
Dr de Valera reports that after "modest refurbishment" it is intended to occupy one floor and lease the remaining floor from early next year. "Your board is confident that this will prove a sound investment," the chairman's statement said.