Friday 23 March 2018

UTV Media to boost full year dividend, despite falling profits

Peter Flanagan

Peter Flanagan

MEDIA group UTV said it will boost its full year dividend by nearly a fifth, despite sliding profit in 2012.

The company, which counts Q102 and FM104 among its radio stations, will bump up its dividend by 17pc to 7p a share.

The move came despite a 10pc fall in pre-tax profits to £21m (€24.5m) as sales hovered around £120.1m.

As well as owning a string of radio stations here, UTV also owns the sports station TalkSport in the UK and the ITV broadcast licence for the North.

Revenues were hit by another drop in advertising revenue, UTV said, with the market in the Republic proving especially difficult.

Company chairman Richard Huntingford said that the Irish advertising market had "declined much more severely than the GB market in the last few years. This trend continued in 2012 when the radio market is believed to have been down by 7pc to 10pc.

"However, the worst effects of this further market deterioration were countered by the continuing strong outperformance of our local radio stations in Ireland, which recorded only a 1pc reduction in advertising revenue in local currency," he said.

Mr Huntingford described 2012 as a "year of two halves".

The company thrived in the first six months on the Euro 2012 football tournament, where Torres (left) scored for Spain in the final, but the Olympics failed to provide further stimulus. Chief executive John McCann said his company had had a "robust" performance in 2012, in what continues to be a challenging economic environment.

"We have maintained effective control over costs coupled with strong cash management and continued debt reduction, while at the same time maintaining the market leading positions enjoyed by our media assets.

"Reflecting our strong cash generation and our confidence in the future, we have increased the full-year dividend and remain confident that the group is well placed going forward," he added.

Looking ahead, the UTV chief executive said the lack of a major sports tournament during the first half of this year would hit advertising.

However, he said that advertising recovery was expected in the autumn. In London, the shares fell 0.34pc to 147p.

Irish Independent

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