NZ newspaper boost for Fairfax

“Fairfax New Zealand is trading at stronger levels in all segments of our publications,” Fairfax chief executive Fred Hilmer said.

“As a result we expect EBIT for Fairfax of at least $A175 million for the first half of the 2004 financial year.”

Hilmer added that Fairfax also expected its New Zealand operations to achieve earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA) of “at least $NZ75 million for the first half”.

“Assuming revenue trends continue, this would be consistent with Fairfax New Zealand EBITDA of approximately $NZ140 million for the full financial year, compared with the guidance of EBITDA of $NZ130 million given at the time of the acquisition,” he said.

Fairfax’s earnings upgrade comes after the group said in October that it expected a 50 per cent jump in its first half earnings to at least $A170 million in the half year to December 31, 2003.

It said that it expected the NZ business, to surpass the full year target of $NZ130 million.

Meanwhile, Fairfax New Zealand temporarily moved operations from its Putararu printing plant in December after some staff complained of unpleasant odours in the plant, and of feeling unwell.

Brian Ashton, group operations manager, Fairfax New Zealand said: “We have been in regular consultation with OSH and other Government agencies and undertaken extensive tests but as yet we have been unable to identify the cause of the problem.”

“Our primary concern is the health and safety of the Fairfax employees so the decision was made in consultation with the workforce to temporarily move operations while further investigation is undertaken by a group of independent consultants.”

In the interim printing has been moved to other Fairfax plants.

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