According to Reach plc:
The Board is confident that performance for 2018 will be marginally ahead of market expectations.
Group revenue in the fourth quarter grew by 23%, reflecting the acquisition of Express & Star. On a like for like basis Group revenue in the fourth quarter is expected to fall by 5%, an improvement on the third quarter. Circulation revenue and Publishing print advertising revenue is expected to fall by 4% and 15% respectively on a like for like basis. Publishing digital revenue is expected to grow by 5% with display and transactional revenue growing by 8% on a like for like basis.
Express & Star
Integration of Express & Star is progressing well and we now expect to deliver £3 million of synergy savings in 2018, ahead of the £2 million we forecast in October and remain on track to deliver at least £20 million per annum by 2020.
Cash flow and net debt
During the fourth quarter the Group disposed of two vacant properties in Liverpool and Cardiff generating net proceeds of £5 million. These proceeds, together with the continued strong cash generation of the business, will enable net debt to fall to approximately £55 million by the year end, down from £81 million at the half year.
Simon Fox, Chief Executive, commented: “I am pleased with the improved trading in the final quarter. This coupled with continued tight management of the business provides me with confidence that performance for the year is expected to be marginally ahead of expectations. We head into 2019 having made good progress with the integration of Express & Star and with clear plans in place for driving digital growth in the year ahead.”