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Metro International posts 2007 losses

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14:18 CET+01:00
Metro International, the Swedish publisher of free newspapers, on Friday posted a loss for 2007, blaming its performance on a volatile global newspaper market.

The company posted a net loss last year of 27.6 million dollars, down from a net profit a year earlier of 12.9 million dollars, but saw its sales increase by 8.7 percent to 452.9 million dollars.

"While the loss for the full year 2007 is a disappointment, the board, management and employees of Metro International remain committed to reversing losses in markets that are underperforming and to focus investment in areas of strong potential growth, including online," chief executive Per Mikael Jensen said in a statement.

In the last three-month period of the year, usually a strong quarter, Metro saw its net profit slashed in two despite a 12.1 percent increase in sales.

"Metro International has not been immune from the volatility affecting the global newspaper industry, which has been reflected in the latest results of the company," said Jensen, who became head of Metro last August.

He said the company's fourth-quarter results had been negatively impacted by a 10.2-million-dollar provision for a Swedish advertising tax.

The average number of daily newspaper copies printed by Metro's 13 fully consolidated country operations increased by three percent in the fourth quarter of 2007 compared to the same period a year earlier, largely due to circulation increases by existing Metro editions in places like the Netherlands, Spain and Chile, the company said.

"The total daily circulation of titles in which Metro has an interest ... was 8.8 million copies in the fourth quarter, making Metro the second largest daily newspaper in the world," the company said.

Metro International, which counts more than 70 papers across 23 countries in 19 languages, claims to have 23.1 million daily readers worldwide, 74 percent of whom are under the age of 49.

Following its earnings report, Metro International saw its stock price rise two percent on the Stockholm stock exchange, which as a whole was up 0.66 percent.

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