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LONDON, July 28 (Reuters) - British newspaper publisher Trinity Mirror said it expected its full-year results to be marginally ahead of expectations, enabling it to pay a dividend for the first time since 2008.
Shares in Trinity, which dates back to 1832, were up 5.5 percent in early Monday trading on the improving trends, giving it a market capitalisation of 486 million pounds ($825 million).
Trinity, which has been battling falling circulation and lower advertising rates at its Daily and Sunday Mirror titles, said the pace of revenue decline had improved in the first six months of the year, down 2.3 percent compared with the 6 percent fall it recorded in 2013.
The rate of decline also improved throughout the six months, down only 1.4 percent in May and June, helped in part by a jump in revenue from its digital business, where average monthly page views are up by 132 percent. The rate of decline from print revenue also eased.
Chief Executive Simon Fox told reporters he would now be disappointed if the group was not moving into revenue growth towards the end of next year.
“This momentum gives the board confidence that our performance for the year will be marginally ahead of expectations,” Fox said.
Trinity reported first-half profit down 2.2 percent at 48.2 million pounds. It will recommend a final dividend for 2014 of 3 pence per share, which would be payable in June 2015.
“At this stage the board expects paying annual dividends of some 5 pence per share from 2015,” it said.
The one cloud hanging over the publisher is the allegation that some journalists at the Mirror titles engaged in phone hacking and making illegal payments to public officials.
Rupert Murdoch’s British business closed its News of the World Sunday title in 2011 after it admitted illegality at the tabloid and Piers Morgan has been questioned in connection with allegations of phone hacking during his time editing the Daily Mirror.
Trinity Mirror said it had provided 4 million pounds in the first half of the year to cover the cost of dealing with and resolving any claims. ($1 = 0.5889 British Pounds) (Reporting by Kate Holton, Editing by Paul Sandle and Louise Heavens)