Swedish publisher Metro swings to profit in 2010

Swedish publisher Metro swings to profit in 2010
Swedish publisher Metro International, which publishes free daily newspapers in over 100 cities around the world, announced it had swung back to profit in 2010 thanks to restructuring and the recovery of the advertising market.

The company posted a net profit of €4 million ($5.5 million) in 2010 compared to a loss of €21.7 million in 2009. Sales inched up 1 percent to €222.5 million, Metro added in its annual earnings report, but excluding sales of assets and acquisitions, sales were up 8 percent.

“Metro’s turnaround continued in 2010,” CEO Per Mikael Jensen said, saying the company’s performance had 2009 “improved quarter by quarter” since the fourth quarter of 2009.

Metro said Sweden, Canada, Hong Kong, Russia and Latin America had high sales growth, while sales in France, Holland and Denmark were weak last year.

The fourth quarter of 2010 was crucial for the company, with sales jumping 15 percent to €70.5 million and a net profit of €8.3 million, up from €5.9 million for the fourth quarter in 2009.

The company’s operational income was brought down by investments made in the French market to better compete with other free dailies. Because of a boost in advertising ahead of the holiday season, the fourth quarter is usually the company’s best, while the first quarter of the year is usually the worst.

Metro international was launched in Sweden in 1995 and is published in 19 countries. It has some 16.69 million readers at the end of 2010, compared to 16.81 million at the end of 2009. The daily’s main markets are France, the Netherlands, Italy and Sweden.

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