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Publishing

UPDATE 2-INM cuts profit forecast, sees ads stabilising

* Year-to-date pre-ex, constant fx opg. profit down 37 pct

* FY pre-ex opg profit view revised to 170 mln-190 mln euros

* Advertising revenue seen stabilising

* Shares down 1.9 percent after lower profit guidance

(Adds analysts’ quotes, shares)

By Antonella Ciancio

DUBLIN, Oct 29 (Reuters) - Independent News & Media INME.I cut its full-year operating profit guidance on Thursday citing continued "challenging" conditions in the sector, but said advertising revenue was beginning to stabilise.

In a trading update, the Dublin-based publishing group also said a restructuring of its overdue debt and shareholder structure would ultimately position the group for growth.

The company revised its forecast for full-year operating profit before exceptionals to a range between 170 million to 190 million euros. That was down from a forecast at the lower end of 180 million-210 million euros made in August and 200 million-230 million euros estimated in April.

“The advertising trends experienced in September and October remain challenging and are expected to continue for the remainder of 2009,” the group said in a note.

At 1306 GMT, Independent News and Media stock was trading down 1.9 percent at 0.21 euros a share, after earlier falling to 0.204.

“Operating conditions for the company clearly remain very difficult,” Bloxham analysts said in a note.

However, operating profit before exceptional items and in constant currency terms for the year to date was estimated about 37 percent behind last year, compared with a 44.8 percent fall in the first half of 2009, the publishing group said.

“This improved operating profit performance on the first half resulted from the stabilisation in advertising revenue and continued strong cost management across all regions,” it said.

Advertising revenue was seen down 19 percent, compared with a 19.6 percent decline reported at the end of the first half.

Independent News & Media will hold a Nov. 10 meeting of holders of its overdue 200 million euro bond to approve a restructuring plan that could give them a 47 percent stake in the publishing group and which is being opposed by major shareholder Denis O’Brien. [ID:nLJ141742]

“Clearly, this remains the key short term challenge to the stock,” Goodbody analyst Gerry Hennigan said. (Editing by Andras Gergely and Jon Loades-Carter)

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