Metro, Free-Paper Chain, Sees Revenue Climb 48% in '04

By: E&P Staff Metro International increased its sales 48.6% to $302.4 million in 2004, the Swedish-based publisher of free weekday commuter papers in four continents announced today.

Operating profit for its newspaper editions, excluding the new Lisbon and New York editions, was $25.9 million, up from a loss of $3.9 million in 2003, Metro said. Operations were profitable in nine of the 16 countries in which it publishes papers, the company said.

Metro's U.S. unit, which publishes papers in New York City, Philadelphia, and Boston, increased operating profits by 35% for the full year, to $22 million, up from $16.3 million in 2003. Metro said the increases reflect the impact of the May 2004 launch of its New York City edition plus sales growth in Philadelphia, where sales increased 4% for the year, and Boston, where sales were up 16% for the year.

Metro Philadelphia was profitable for the first time in the fourth quarter of 2004, while Boston reported its third consecutive quarterly profit in the fourth quarter.

The New York operation, reporting its second full-quarter operating result in the fourth quarter, reported an operating loss of $3.5 million. Combined U.S. operations lost $12.5 million in the fourth quarter, Metro reported.

"Metro achieved another year of rapid sales growth in 2004, but what is especially pleasing is that the group actually succeeded during the year in accelerating top line growth. At constant exchange rates, net sales increased by 36.8% year-on-year in the (fourth) quarter and by 36.9% for the full year," said Metro President and CEO Pelle Tornberg.


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