Floods and earthquake setbacks for APN
AUSTRALASIAN media company APN is to restructure its business after the company warned half-year profits for 2011 would be behind last year.
The company, which owns a number of newspapers and radio stations in Australia and New Zealand, including the 'New Zealand Herald', said business had been hit by the devastating floods which ravaged Queensland during the winter, while the Christchurch earthquake had also impacted on business.
APN is 31pc owned by Independent News & Media, parent of the Irish Independent.
Speaking at the company's AGM yesterday, chairman Gavin O'Reilly said: "It is extraordinary to experience one natural disaster -- but two major natural disasters in two distinct geographies in one quarter is truly, truly extraordinary.
"April trading has remained consistent with the update on March 21, where we outlined the first-quarter impact of the natural disasters in Queensland and Christchurch.
"Despite some improvement in Queensland, earnings are still being impacted by the repercussions of the earthquake on an already weak New Zealand economy coupled with an extremely strong Australian dollar.
"As a result, it is now expected that the first-half EBIT will be below last year by A$15m (€11m) to A$20m."
Mr O'Reilly added: "In response, APN has commenced a round of restructuring initiatives in our publishing operations. Significantly, outdoor and radio continue to trade ahead of the prior year."
Despite a "difficult start to 2011", trading was anticipated to improve in the second half, although it was not expected that the full-year result would match APN's 2010 earnings, Mr O'Reilly said.
"This return to positive earnings momentum will ensure the continuity of dividends and, most importantly, enable the pursuit of growth-orientated initiatives," he added.
Mr O'Reilly was re-elected with more than 96pc of shareholder votes, while chief executive Brett Chenoweth earned some 99pc of shareholder proxies. APN shares closed down 5.6pc in Sydney.