Mecom warns on profits over Dutch advertising market

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SHARES in newspaper publisher Mecom crashed yesterday after it blamed tough conditions in the Dutch economy for a profits warning.

Shares in the group fell to a seven-month low, closing down 28.75p, or 34.3 per cent, at 55p. The company’s market value has fallen by more than 60 per cent over the past 12 months.

The company, which owns regional titles and websites across Europe, said advertising revenues in the Netherlands were set to drop by more than 20 per cent compared to last year.

“This is both higher than the group had anticipated and higher than current market expectations,” Mecom said.

It said that anticipated revenues in the group’s Danish operations now suggest that performance in that business will also be “somewhat lower than previous expectations”.

The impact means the company’s core earnings in March will be behind 2012 and the company said it expected a further similar shortfall in April.

Mecom, which owns more than 250 printed titles and 200 websites in the Netherlands, Denmark and Poland, said its cost-saving programme would not be enough to offset falling revenues.

“The depth of the crisis is 
expected to affect advertising revenues for the foreseeable future and any improvement in economic conditions and consumer confidence is not anticipated until later in the year at the earliest,” said executive chairman Stephen Davidson.

Analyst Gareth Davies at Numis said there were very little specific details before the company provided more explicit guidance on 25 April but he said his 2013 EBITDA forecast could fall from €75m (£64m) to €50m.

Mecom’s Dutch division owns eight paid-for dailies and approximately 200 free-sheet titles.