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Shares in Reach, the publisher of titles including the Daily Mirror, Daily Express and Manchester Evening News, soared by a quarter after the publisher significantly upgraded its profit forecast for 2020.

Reach, which was forced to cut 550 jobs last year to weather the pandemic, said that its forecast of £130m to £135m in underlying profits followed a record digital performance. Analysts had estimated full year profits of about £122m.

The company, which like all publishers struggles against giants such as Facebook and Google for digital income, said that digital revenue grew by 25% year on year in the fourth quarter last year. This compared to a 13% rise in the third quarter.

Despite the boost in digital income the company, which remains heavily dependent on print income, newspaper sales were down 11.7% in the fourth quarter. The rise in digital revenues helped limit the fall in total revenues to 10.2% in the quarter. This is a significant improvement over the 14.8% fall in total revenues in the third quarter last year.

Malcolm Morgan, media analyst at Peel Hunt, says:

Even though the shares have regained all of their Covid price fall, we expect the progress shown today to boost the share price further.


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