LONDON (Reuters) - Trinity Mirror Plc (TNI.L) chief Sly Bailey has had her pay frozen this year, she said on Thursday, after the newspaper publisher posted a sharp drop in yearly earnings and forecast a drop in sales in the first quarter of the current year.
Bailey had been criticised by both shareholders and the National Union of Journalists (NUJ) for taking a pay package of 1.7 million pounds in 2010 as chief executive of the publisher of the Daily Mirror, the People and a host of regional titles.
“My salary’s certainly frozen along with everyone else‘s,” she told journalists on a conference call on Thursday, referring further questions to the company’s chairman.
The group said it was targeting structural cost savings of 15 million pounds this year and would freeze salaries, having cut hundreds of jobs in recent years as readership and advertising revenues declined.
Trinity Mirror said it expected group sales to fall by 3 percent this quarter on the back of a 12 percent drop in advertising revenue, with the trend worsening from January to March and only partially offset by other revenue streams.
“Advertising markets are expected to remain challenging, showing year-on-year declines and month-on-month volatility during 2012,” it said in a statement.
Trinity Mirror’s adjusted operating profit fell 15 percent to 104 million pounds in 2011, while revenue fell 2 percent to 747 million, broadly in line with forecasts.
The company said the launch of a Sunday edition of News Corp’s (NWSA.O) Sun tabloid would add to volatility, forecasting a 1 percent decline in the total circulation of its national titles in March, after increases in January and February.
Shares in Trinity Mirror, which had fallen 19 percent this year so far, were down 0.7 percent at 37.8 pence by 1502 GMT. Trinity Mirror’s market value is 99 million pounds.
Analysts at brokerage Numis said the stock looked cheap and would be their preferred play among distressed media names including Johnston Press Plc (JPR.L) and Yell Group Plc YELL.l, but added it was “cheap for good reason and remains one for the very brave.”
Trinity Mirror said it had cut its net debt to by 45 million pounds to 221 million and announced a new 110 million pound bank facility committed until August 2015.
The company’s pension deficit rose by 49 percent to 173 million pounds due to a falling stock market and lower discount rates. It said, however, it had agreed to cut deficit funding payments to 10 million pounds for the next three years.
Trinity Mirror also said it was entering the increasingly popular “daily deals” market with a new brand “happli” which will compete with the likes of Groupon.
Editing by Helen Massy-Beresford and David Holmes