‘Winnipeg Free Press’ to Print ‘Brandon Sun’

By: E&P Staff

FP Canadian Newspapers Limited Partnership (FPLP) said in its fourth-quarter 2009 earnings report that it plans to consolidate production of the Brandon Sun at the Winnipeg Free Press plant.

The move has been under consideration since the Toronto-based Globe and Mail extended but did not renew the Sun’s contract to print the national newspaper (E&P Online, Nov. 6, 2009 and March 24, 2010).

FPLP, which also publishes Canstar community newspapers, posted a $3.7 million (Canadian) profit for the fourth quarter of 2009 on revenue of C$30.8 million — 11% higher than a year earlier, when a strike disrupted operations for 16 days. Comparison of only the last two months in each year showed revenue and net earnings declined 5%, an improvement over the 11% year-to-year drop of the first nine months.

The Free Press quoted its publisher, Bob Cox, saying preliminary results for early 2010 show improvement in “a much more stable operating environment.”

Advertising revenue for the last two months of the year was 6.2% below that of 2008, although the big display-ad category remained unchanged. Classified, however, fell 22%, and income from freestanding inserts was down 12.3%.

FPLP reported circulation revenue unchanged and commercial printing off by 10%.

Sales for the 2009 calendar came to C$113.9 million, down 5.9% from 2008, while net earnings fell 10.5% to C$7.1 million for the year.

FPLP further noted a December refinancing that replaces a $60-million term agreement that was due in June 2010. The new agreement calls for principal repayment of C$5 million annually.

FP Newspapers Income Fund owns 49% of FPLP. As part of the additional debt-servicing requirement in January 2010, the fund’s monthly distribution was cut from 9.5 to six cents a unit.

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