Trinity Mirror Call: Bailey: ‘Print Survived Two World Wars’, £20 Million Cuts Coming

imageYou’ve got to admire Sly Bailey’s optimism. Despite profits falling 15 percent in the half-year alone, the Trinity Mirror (LSE: TNI) CEO told analysts: “This morning, I’m going to concentrate on our strengths.” Still, most of the metrics look negative… ad slowdown is accelerating, down 15 percent in July (regionals 17 percent, nationals 13 percent). And circulations are forecast to be down two percent in the second half of the year.

Cost cuts: On track to make £20 million 2008 cost cuts, a new round of cost-cutting is coming in 2009, with “at least” £20 million due to be shaved off – centred around better ad systems and integrated multimedia production based on the Media Wales example. So expect more job losses. “It’s not about cost-cutting, though, certainly, it is reducing our costs.”

Death of print?: Bailey came out fighting with the most curious of historical contexts: “I say this to those who will write newspapers’ obituary – our portfolio of iconic media brands has survived two World Wars, a Depression and multimedia… they are resilient, and will still be here… newspapers will be around for many years to come.”

Hyperlocal: Trinity’s post code-level news projects have set the pace in the regional industry. It has 80 of them now and aims for over 100 by year’s end. But Bailey’s pledge that “our goal is to be the first choice for users’ local homepage” may not make sense as users are unlikely to set a local homepage.

Classifieds: Bailey hailed her increase in Fish4 stake to 50 percent, making it a JV with Newsquest, as giving Trinity nine percent of the UK digital recruitment advertising market – but, minus Fish4, Bailey said its already eight percent, so what’s the benefit? Bailey said Fish4 is just behind TotalJobs and ahead of Monster.

Targets and acquisitions: Trinity’s target of £100 million from digital by 2011 and doubling web audiences to 24 million by 2010 looks fair, given recent patterns. And, Bailey said, it’s an “organic goal which shows no benefit from any further acquisitions”. But: “We are always interested in digital acquisitions at the right price that fit our strategy and that create shareholder value. Acquisitions are opportunistic by nature.” CFO Vijay Vaghela: “We’re in a build phase, and the monetisation phase will always come behind the build phase.”