4Q Earnings Jump Swings Metro International To First Annual Profit

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By: E&P Staff

Metro International, the global publisher of free commuter daily papers, reported a fourth-quarter 2006 operating profit of $10.9 million, nearly double the $4.5 million operating profit of the same period in 2005. Net sales increased 23% to $124.1 million, or 15% over the year-ago period in constant exchange rates.

For the full year of 2006, Metro swung to a profit of $16.9 million including a book profit of $12.3 million from the sale of its Finland operations. In 2005, Metro lost $2.5 million after booking the $2.5 million sale of its Metro Boston minority stake.

It was the first annual net profit for the publisher of free papers in 100 cities in 20 countries on four continents.

President and CEO Pelle Tornberg, who announced Tuesday he would be stepping down at the end of the summer, said the profit improvement came from better performances by papers in the U.S., Spain, and Sweden.

Excluding Finland and Poland, where Metro shut down its papers this winter, newspapers older than three years old are delivering an average 15.9% profit margin, Tornberg said.

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