The publisher of the Irish Times posted an operating profit of over €2.6m in 2018 before taking account of the almost €2m in takeover and other reorganisation costs following the acquisition last summer of the newspaper titles and broadcasting interests of the Irish Examiner group.
The 2018 accounts for The Irish Times Designated Activity Company also include the financial results for just under six months for the Irish Examiner group companies, which the Irish Times acquired on July 10, following the approval of the takeover by the communications minister, the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, and by the Competition Commission.
The publishing and other broadcasting interests acquired as part of the Irish Examiner group acquisition included The Echo, Landmark Digital, The Nationalist and Leinster Times, the Roscommon Herald, the Western People, WKW FM, South East Broadcasting, and Benchwarmers Limited.
Before taking account of the exceptional costs of the acquisition, The Irish Times Designated Activity Company operating profit of over €2.6m was up from almost €2.5m in 2017, as turnover rose 21% to almost €94.4m from around €77.9m in the previous year.
The Irish Times group posted a pre-tax loss of almost €1.5m, compared with a profit of €2m in 2017, reflecting the exceptional costs. “The group performed well in 2018 with further development of the digital revenue base and the implementation of cost-saving initiatives during the year,” states the directors’ report.
It says that revenues from consumer content rose over 2%; advertising revenue was up 1%; while the growth in digital income quickened to 15.8% with group subscriptions of 87,638 at the end of the year.
“The operating results for the year reflect the challenging operating environment and the initial integration of the Irish Examiner Media Group,” it said.
Total exceptional costs of €2m include reorganisation costs of almost €1.9m and other costs of just over €112,160. That compares with total exceptional costs of just over €802,000 in 2017.
Referring to the Irish Examiner group purchase, the directors’ report says: “The purchase of this business results from the strategic imperatives of reducing the combined cost base of the two organisations, sustaining advertising revenues with a larger audience and building digital revenues.
It states: “Our strategy is focused on sustainable profitability with investment in compelling and distinctive journalism. Following the acquisition of the Examiner Group, the objective of the newly combined entities is to create a dynamic and vibrant media business which can sustain itself for the longer term and where the respective media assets will contribute significantly to the media market.”
According to the accounts, the goodwill acquired of almost €2.2m will be amortised over two years.
The Irish Times subsidiaries include MyHome Limited, training company Itronics, and DigitalworX, and a half of Gloss Publications.
The directors’ report says that the group had €14.2m in cash at the end of the year, up from €11.5m at the end of 2017.
It said a remaining cash payment to “the pension enhancement” of over €2.9m is due between 2019 and 2021.
“The group continues to generate strong cash; during 2018 operating profit before depreciation of tangible assets, amortisation of goodwill and intangibles and exceptional items amounted to €6.5m (2017: €6.2m),” states the report.
Group managing director Liam Kavanagh was paid €270,000 and editor of the Irish Times Paul O’Neill was paid €240,000 last year.
They were paid the same amounts in the previous year.