Strong performance in advertising boosts shares by 5% for owner of Belfast Telegraph
Independent News & Media (INM) has reported 2.9% growth in advertising revenue for the first half of 2015.
Shares in the company jumped more than 5% after the media group's half year results showed digital advertising revenue was up 43.8%, more than offsetting a marginal decline in print advertising revenue.
INM - which owns the Belfast Telegraph, the Sunday Life, the Sunday Independent and the Irish Independent - achieved a 13.5% increase in pre-tax profits for the period, some €15.1m (£11m).
INM chief executive Robert Pitt said: "The first half of 2015 has been very satisfactory for Independent News & Media.
"Both from an operational perspective - where we have seen a continued strong performance across our titles - and from a financial perspective, where we have made significant progress in addressing legacy balance sheet issues."
INM connects with 2.5 million readers every week through its print and online titles, latest figures show.
In Northern Ireland, the Belfast Telegraph continues to hold the number one position within the local daily newspaper market.
On the digital side, total page impressions grew by 20.7% year-on-year to 625 million in the first half of the year.
The Belfast Telegraph website attracts around 14 million page views every month.
The company cleared its debt completely during the first six months of the year after selling its stake in the Australian media group APN.
As a result, INM now has net cash of €35.4m (£26m).
That gives the company the ability to start assessing takeover targets - but Pitt said the firm would only move if there was a clear business case to do so.
The second half of the year has started well and a full-year performance in line with expectations is anticipated, Mr Pitt added.
In other developments, an editorial graduate scheme was started this month with practical training support supplied by London's Press Association.