UTV surges despite revenue dip at radio stations here
MORE bad news from its Irish operations was not enough to hold back media group UTV, which reported increased half-year profits yesterday.
The group, which owns a host of radio stations here, including Q102 and FM104, said revenue from its Irish division fell 4pc year-on-year in what chairman John McGuckian called a "very challenging" environment.
"The Irish advertising marketplace continued to be very challenging, but our strong audience delivery was instrumental in maintaining our outperformance of the market.
"Revenue at our Irish radio division in the first six months was down by 4pc on the same period to £11m (€12.4m). With further cost savings of £300,000 (€339,000), our Irish radio operating profit was £200,000 (€226,000) lower at £3m (€3.4m)," Mr McGuckian added.
The company said it expected advertising revenue here to fall in the third quarter, "reflecting the current macro-economic factors and uncertainties in the Irish market",
Despite the grim news from Ireland, UTV had a positive year overall, with total profits rising by nearly a fifth to £9.08m (€10.3m). Operating profit was down 4pc, mainly due to what the company called "tough comparatives" with the World Cup last year. Revenue from its radio stations in the UK, which includes TalkSport, was flat year-on-year. The dividend has been increased by 50pc to 1.5p.
Looking ahead, Mr McGuckian said it was "difficult to be optimistic in the midst of such uncertainty surrounding growth in both domestic and global economies" but the company continued to make "steady progress".
The results were welcomed by analysts. Davy's Simon McGrotty praised the company for its "consistent" results.
"The group has been focused to date on debt reduction, which reduces significantly the risks should economic conditions deteriorate further.
"In addition, with debt at more comfortable levels, it allows the group to make more meaningful returns to shareholders," he said. UTV closed up 11.88pc at 120p.