Guardian Media Group reports smaller losses, plans to sell interest in Top Right Group
Digital revenue rose 20 percent to £82.1 million as the brand’s audience grew; Guardian US newsroom vote unanimously to unionize through the News Media Guild
The Guardian Media Group today reported full year digital ad sales had increased 20 percent to £82.1 million as the company reported a loss of £17.6 million, though that loss was £8.5 million less than the same period a year ago.
“We would like to thank the News Media Guild and the Communications Workers of America for their invaluable help, advice and support,” the staff said in a statement. “Furthermore, we greatly appreciate the support shown by our unionized editorial colleagues in the UK and Australia, where the Guardian has a strong history of working in partnership with its unions.”
“This is a big day not only for the writers and staff members at The Guardian US but for the news industry as a whole,” said Bernard Lunzer, President of The NewsGuild-CWA. “Digital media is growing up, and it’s time our digital reporters received the same benefits and protections as their print media colleagues.”
The move to unionize is likely more symbolic than anything else. The days of twice a year, across-the-board raises are long past (the last such raises I experienced was at Hearst in the ’80s). Instead, the move reflects a belief that it is easier move management to create and maintain better office working conditions when the staff speaks with one voice.
The newspaper company is also looking to exit its Top Right Group investment. Top Right, formerly known as Emap, is a UK B2B publisher which is owned by the private equity company Apax Partners and the Guardian Media Group which acquired the company in 2008. Top Right titles include Architectural Review and Broadcast. Because of the company’s debt load, a sale of the Guardian’s interest probably would only net them £250 million, according to the Guardian’s own report.
Here is the Guardian Media Group’s latest earnings announcement:
London, England – July 30, 2015 — Guardian Media Group today announced increased full-year sales, sharply higher digital revenues and reduced losses from continuing operations in the 12 months ending 29 March 2015.
- Group revenue  2015: £214.6m (2014: £209.0m)
- Guardian News Media (GNM) digital revenue  2015: £82.1m (2014: £68.3m)
- GNM underlying EBITDA 2015: £(19.1m) (2014: £(19.4m))
- PBT including discontinued operations 2015: £(17.6m) (2014: £549.2m)
- PBT from continuing operations 2015: £(17.6m) (2014: £(26.1m))
- Cash and investment fund 2015: £838.3m (2014: £842.7m)
Digital revenues at Guardian News & Media, the Group’s core business, jumped 20% to £82.1m as the Guardian’s year-end online audience reached 127 million monthly unique browsers, up from 102.3 million in March 2014.
Group revenues also rose 3% to £214.6m – the third consecutive year of growth.
Neil Berkett, chair of GMG, said:
“These full-year financial results show that the Group is on the right track by increasing revenues and narrowing our underlying operating loss. This is a very creditable performance following the transformation of our balance sheet, which was strengthened significantly by the disposal in 2014 of our stake in Trader Media Group.”
David Pemsel, who succeeded Andrew Miller as GMG chief executive on July 1 2015, added:
“These results give us the confidence to invest further in the world-class journalism, digital innovation and growing international readership which has made the Guardian such a powerful global brand. That, in turn, will help deliver long-term financial and editorial sustainability.”
As forecast in this year’s trading update, Group losses from continuing operations narrowed by £8.5m year-on-year, whilst underlying operating losses at GNM improved by £0.3m, reflecting continued investment in developing the business. At the pre-tax level, the Group reported a loss of £17.6m, compared with a profit of £549.2m in the prior reporting period – a year which included profits attributable to GMG’s 50.1% stake in Trader Media of £575m.
The figures include contributions from Top Right Group, the media joint venture of which GMG owns 33.1%.
Following the Trader Media Group disposal, GMG’s cash and investment fund stood at £838.3m at the financial year-end. In the period, investment fund growth of £54.9m almost completely offset the cash outflow to fund GMG’s operating activities.
Neil Berkett concluded:
“GMG will continue to innovate and expand internationally in the year ahead. This will include growth in our membership scheme and digital presence. Our ambitious programme will coincide with continuous cost discipline throughout the current financial year.”
 2014 and 2015 have been restated to exclude Guardian Digital Agency (GDA). GDA was sold in July 2014.
 ABC March 2015. (That figure has now reached 130.9m unique monthly browsers according to the latest Digital ABC figures from June 2015.)