Publisher Metro reports drop in quarterly losses

Metro International, the Swedish publisher of free newspapers, said Friday it diminished its first quarter losses compared to the same period last year, but warned 2011 would see higher paper prices.

Publisher Metro reports drop in quarterly losses

Metro’s net loss for the first quarter was €3.4 million ($4.9 million), down from €5.8 million a year earlier.

The free daily publisher stressed the first quarter traditionally “is one of the two weaker quarters for Metro, following lower consumer spending after the Christmas season,” which tends to result in an advertising slump.

On the other hand, the fourth quarter is usually the company’s best because of a boost in advertising ahead of the holiday season.

“The full year 2011 will be influenced by higher paper prices,” chief executive Per Mikael Jensen said, adding the year was off to a good start.

Metro, which launched two new editions in Canada and its first paper in Guatemala during the quarter, meanwhile said that in both Sweden and Denmark, its earnings before interest and taxes (EBIT) were up by €1.0 million during the three-month period.

Sales jumped to €56.4 million from €48.8 million in the same period in 2010, helped by strong growth in Chile, Russia and Mexico, the company said.

Metro said its sales in France were negatively affected by a price war between free dailies.

“We are, however, maintaining our position as the second most read newspaper in France,” said Metro, which also ranks as the second most read paper in the Netherlands.

Metro launched in Sweden in 1995 and is now published in over 100 cities in 20 countries.

It today counts some 17 million readers, the company said Friday, noting however that readership in existing editions had slipped 1.0 percent year-on-year.

The daily’s main markets are France, the Netherlands, Italy and Sweden.

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Social Democrats call for Malmö underground system

Malmö’s Social Democrats have backed plans to build an underground railway in the city which could then be connected to Copenhagen through a tunnel under the Öresund straits.

Social Democrats call for Malmö underground system
The Copenhagen Metro in Örestad, near to the Öresund Straits. Photo: Johan Nilsson / TT / Kod
Malmö mayor Katrin Stjernfeldt Jammeh wants the city to begin drawing up plans for an underground railway with at least five stops: Malmö Central, Södervärn, Värnhem, Västra Hamnen and Nyhamnen. 
“We need to plan for a traffic system where we take into account being a city of half a million people,” she told the local Sydsvenskan newspaper. 
“And the traffic system needs to be able to handle more than just those who live in Malmö because we represent 50 percent of the growth in new jobs in Skåne and in addition are experiencing growing tourism.” 
Stjernfeldt Jammeh said that if her party manages to hold onto power after Sunday’s election, she aimed to push forward with the plans even before an investment decision over the Öresund Metro link. 
“There is a good reason in going underground, because we need to be economical with space on the surface,” she said. 
Sweden’s Liberal Party was the first to suggest building an underground in Malmö, with the Social Democrats instead pushing for a tram network until the plan was voted down by the centre-Right Alliance in Skåne’s regional government.