News shares hit year high

SHARES in Irish Independent owners Independent News & Media (IN&M) were downgraded yesterday to a hold from a buy by Dolmen Securities as the shares hit a year high price of €2.08.

The shares hit a low of €1.18 in March after opening the year at €2.06 but steadily improved as the company recapitalised to break the €2 price target set by Dolmen.

The shares closed at €2.06 last night.

Yesterday, Dolmen analyst Stuart Draper issued a note to clients saying they are downgrading their buy recommendation to a hold.

“We would recommend a switch to BSkyB as providing more upside potential from current levels in the European media sector,” he added.

Mr Draper noted that one of the reasons for the recent strength in the IN&M share price was the November ABC British national newspaper data.

“This data showed the (British) Independent’s sales rose to €240,326, its highest level since October 2001.

“This represented an 8.5% year-on-year increase, against the backdrop of a 4.9% decline in overall British national morning quality newspapers during the period,” he added.

Mr Draper believes that with Irish advertising starting to recover, second-half earning for 2003 at IN&M are likely to show significant year-on-year growth.

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