ON TRACK: APN chief executive Brendan Hopkins, who says APN is focused on organic growth
ON TRACK: APN chief executive Brendan Hopkins, who says APN is focused on organic growth

APN making news with $128m profit



AUSTRALIAN and New Zealand radio and newspaper group APN News & Media Ltd, parent company of The Northern Star, is well positioned for further growth and is on track to meet profit forecasts.

The group yesterday reported a 24 per cent jump in net profit to $128.27 million for 2004.

Trading was already ahead of last year and APN was currently on track to meet consensus forecasts of just over $140 million for 2005, it said.

"Given a continuation of current trading conditions, the consensus full-year profit estimates currently in the market appear likely to be met," APN said.

"Queensland and the northern half of the North Island of New Zealand once again recorded strong economic conditions, producing above national average growth rates and near record employment levels."

Chief executive Brendan Hopkins said APN was focused on organic growth, but would consider acquisitions if Australian media ownership laws ease after the Government gets control of the Senate in July.

"Everyone in the media sector is talking informally all the time, but APN doesn't yet have concrete plans," Mr Hopkins said.

"We believe we have great capacity to grow this business organically and that remains our sole purpose."

Mr Hopkins said APN owned the six fastest-growing daily newspapers in Australia and the four fastest in New Zealand.

He said APN's Australian Radio Network (ARN) would also do well in 2005, despite increased competition from three new FM licences being launched this year ? in Brisbane, Melbourne and Sydney ? by Nova station owner, DMG Radio Australia Ltd.

"We continue to see a strong performance in 2005," he said.

Analysts said APN's 2004 performance was very strong.

APN yesterday announced a partly franked final divided of 14 cents, compared with 11.8 cents previously. This lifted total dividends for the year to 22 cents from 18.3 cents.

APN shares closed nine cents lower at $4.93.



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