November 23, 2012 / 10:51 AM / 5 years ago

UPDATE 1-Publisher Future Plc boosted by move from print to digital

LONDON, Nov 22 (Reuters) - British magazine publisher Future Plc reported a rise in 2012 earnings as a move to restructure towards the digital market began to pay off.

The publisher of the “Official Xbox Magazine” posted a 26 percent increase in operating profit to 6.8 million pounds ($10.8 million) for the year to end-Sept on Friday, with a growing online audience balancing out dwindling print revenues.

Overall trading is in line with expectations, the company said, despite the challenging economic backdrop.

The company struggled in 2011 when a sharp fall in advertising sales in the U.S. depressed profits, dragged Future’s shares to an all-time low and prompted a dividend suspension.

Future, which owns consumer technology site TechRadar and magazines “T3”, “Total Film” and “Classic Rock”, said it will review whether to resume dividend payments in 2013.

The company expects to build on its digital developments over the next financial year, chief executive Mark Wood said in a call with reporters, as sales of tablet devices expand.

Tablets are expected to top shopping lists over the Christmas period.

“Print advertising revenue is down actually 29 percent, and that’s offset to a degree by digital advertising, but we’re not seeing that complete offset in the U.S. yet,” said chief financial officer Graham Harding.

The restructure of the U.S. business dragged 2012 revenues down 3 percent to 118 million pounds, excluding closed or divested activities, but Future said it remained on track to return to profitability in the U.S. by the end of next year.

Traffic to the U.S. version of TechRadar, launched in April 2012, jumped from two million to six million users over six months, said Wood.

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