Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Free Press reports slight revenue increase

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THE company that owns the Winnipeg Free Press, Brandon Sun and a number of Manitoba regional and community newspapers has reported slight increases in revenues for the fourth quarter and for the full year.

FP Canadian Newspapers Limited Partnership (FPLP) generated revenue of $30.2 million for the fourth quarter, an increase of 0.8 per cent over the same period in 2011 and $111.5 million for the full year, an increase of 0.2 per cent over the previous year.

FP Newspapers Inc., the publicly traded entity that is entitled to 49 per cent of the distributable cash of FPLP, reported net earnings of $2.0 million for the three months ending Dec. 30, 2012, compared to a net loss of $13.1 million for the same period in 2011, which included a $15-million non-cash writedown of the investment in FPLP Class A limited partner units.

FPLP's advertising revenues for the fourth quarter ending Dec. 31, 2012, were $20.6 million, a 0.9 per cent decline. Display advertising, its largest category, was down 0.6 per cent, circulation revenue was down 1.5 per cent and digital revenue was up 14.9 per cent or $100,000.

EBITDA for the quarter was $7.4 million, an increase of 1.2 per cent.

Revenue of $111.5 million for the full year was up 0.2 per cent and EBITDA for the year was $21 million compared to $23.1 million in 2011, a decrease of 9.1 per cent.

Net earnings for the year were $5.2 million compared to a loss of $9.4 million last year.

Bob Cox, publisher of the Free Press, said advertising revenue is difficult to predict, but the company is expecting financial performance in 2013 will be similar to 2012.

"There is a little more stability, but last year we saw declines earlier in the year," Cox said. "We have not seen it so far this year."

He said 2012 results were a combination of managing down costs -- including an eight per cent reduction in the workforce -- and having more stable revenue.

While operating profits are down, FPLP's performance stacks up well against other Canadian newspaper companies.

FPLP posted modest revenue growth of 0.2 per cent in 2012 compared to a 2.8 per cent decline at Torstar Inc., owners of the Toronto Star and a number of newspapers in Ontario, and a 7.2 per cent decline at Postmedia, owners of a number of large metropolitan dailies across the country.

Operating profit, or EBITDA, before restructuring charges, declined at FPLP at only half the rate of decline at Torstar and only about one third of Postmedia's decline.

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition March 15, 2013 B6

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