23 JUNE 1939, Page 34


These are difficult times for companies in the news- print producing and periodical publishing business, and Lord Camrose, with characteristic frankness, made no attempt to gloss matters over at the Amalgamated Press meeting. On the publishing side, the group has held its own, for despite political crises, many of the publications have achieved fresh records in circulation and, on the whole, advertising revenue has been well maintained. The fly in the ointment has been the Imperial Paper Mills sub- sidiary which, like other paper-making concerns, has been caught between increased costs and low selling prices. One cannot be sure how much of the fall in profits should be attributed to the results of this subsidiary but I imagine that here is the real key to the position.

In view of the uncertain outlook one cannot be surprised at the board's decision to abandon, for the time being, the practice of declaring interim ordinary dividends, but share- holders will be reassured by Lord Carnrose's references to the recent improvement in Imperial Paper's position. He stated that since the beginning of the present financial year the mills had been in full production and that the price of pulps had now reached a more normal basis. He there- fore felt justified in hoping that for the first time for three years the company's large investment in this subsidiary might yield something approaching a reasonable return. A very necessary reduction in production costs was in prospect as a result of the plant-modernisation programme which was proceeding according to schedule.