Daily Mirror and Daily Express publisher Reach said it has been buoyed by a surge in online revenues and expects to surpass profit targets as a result.
Shares in the company soared by a quarter in early trading on Friday after the group, which is also the UK’s largest regional news business, said it expects to post between £130 million and £135 million in underlying operating profits for 2020.
Analysts had predicted that the company would deliver around £122 million in profits.
Reach said its positive trading performance was driven by an acceleration in online revenues, which jumped by 24.9% in the final quarter compared with 13% growth in quarter three.
We have accelerated our strategy and we are ahead of where we expected to beJim Mullen, chief executive
Meanwhile, it said its print circulation sales were 11.7% lower in the fourth quarter, improving on a 12.6% decline in the previous three-month period.
Total revenues declined by 10.2% in the final quarter, compared with a 14.8% decline in the third quarter.
The improvement in profitability at Reach comes six months after the business cut around 550 jobs, representing 12% of its workforce.
In July, it said the move would contribute to an overhaul aimed at saving £35 million each year.
Jim Mullen, chief executive, said: “It is a testament to our people that Reach has not only dealt with the unique challenges 2020 has presented, but we have accelerated our strategy and we are ahead of where we expected to be.
“The new Covid-19 restrictions bring macroeconomic uncertainty, but the changes made in the business during 2020 to develop a new, more efficient operating model put us in a strong competitive position.”
Shares in the company were up 22.7% to 216p.