Top brokers forecast rise at the Indo
SHANE ROSS STOCKBROKERS NCB has pushed its bottom line earnings forecast in the current year at Independent News & Media up nearly 7 per cent following upbeat 2003 preliminary results last week.
Analyst Shane Matthews says the significant part of the 2004 improvement will come from "the 100 per cent-owned and lower tax-related Irish and UK operations".
Following last week's results, the chairman of INM, Sir Anthony O'Reilly, spoke about the success of the compact edition of the London Independent for the first time.
He told the Sunday Independent yesterday he was "pleasantly surprised at the success of the compact edition of the London Independent, but the pendulum is moving in our favour. The Daily Telegraph is following us and the Times has already put a team with tabloid instincts on their own version."
He pointed out that newspaper groups cannot choose when opportunities will fall their way. In relation to future acquisitions he said they "may appear at any time, newspapers never advertise that they are coming on the market".
He said the Belfast Telegraph purchase provided IN&M with its "first opportunity for all-Ireland costs and all-Ireland printing".
He reckoned it was "important for all newspapers throughout the world to put papers together more cheaply, in a costless fashion. Now that technology is getting more congruent, Robert Fisk can be the biggest writer in South Africa while other journalists in the Independent Group like David McKittrick and James Lawton provide a pool of talent that moves over all our papers. Current trends will enable us to do more with less resources."
Sir Anthony would not comment on IN&M share price or its market capitalisation, which have risen by 93 per cent over the last 12 months. During his reign at Heinz in the US, the market capitalisation of the firm rose from $900m in 1979 to $19bn when he left in 2000, a compound rate of return of 21 per cent per annum.