PR renaissance as Lord Bell's Chime is back in the black

LONDON - Chime Communications, owner of PR agency Bell Pottinger, is back in the black for the first half of the year, with pre-tax profit of £3.2m, and confident about the year ahead.

The company said it was confident about the full-year results when it reported its interim figures this morning, which were in line with analyst forecasts.

Chime reported pre-tax profits of £3.2m, compared with a loss of £5.3m last year. Turnover at the company fell from £49.3m to £46.8m with earnings per share of 1.1p, compared with a loss of 4.2p a share last year

At Chime's public relations business, which contributes 71% of the company's profit, operating income stayed steady at £16.9m, but profit rose by 2% to £2.54m. The company said that Bell Pottinger Corporate and Financial was enjoying a "renaissance". Across all its PR agencies, new-business wins included eBay, Deutsche Telecom, Ofcom and Pfizer.

Integrated marketing services, which include digital agencies Heresy and Pure Media, saw a rise in operating income for the period of 6% to £8.25m. The research division saw a rise in operating income of 26.5% to £1.8m.

Lord Bell, chairman of Chime Communications, said: "I am pleased that we have returned to reporting pre-tax profits. Our successful fund raising and the current level of business in hand gives us confidence about the results for the full year."

Chime cut its debt from £29.8m at the end of June last year to £8.8m. Shares in the company rose by 0.5p this morning to trade at 31.5p.

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