(Reuters) - Reach Plc <RCH.L>, the publisher of the Daily Mirror, on Friday forecast full-year profit marginally ahead of market expectations, benefiting from its acquisition of Daily Express and the Star and higher publishing digital revenue.
Reach, previously called Trinity Mirror, has been trying to cut costs and take advantage of a better national print advertising environment to counter rising newsprint prices.
The company bought the Express and Star in February and expects to save 3 million pounds in 2018 from integrating the deals, ahead of the 2 million pounds it forecast in October. Reach said it was on track for at least 20 million pounds of annual savings by 2020.
For the year ending Dec. 30, the company said the market consensus range for adjusted profit-before-tax was 132.2 million pounds to 133.9 million pounds.
Revenue in the fourth quarter rose by 23 percent, reflecting the Express and Star deal, Reach said.
Reach announced the 127 million pound takeover in February, bringing together tabloids from opposite ends of the political spectrum in a group it said would be in a stronger position to cope with advertisers and readers moving online.
The deal added the daily and Sunday editions of the Express and Star tabloids to Reach's stable of more than 260 national and regional titles, including the Daily Record, the Manchester Evening News and the Liverpool Echo.
On a like for like basis, excluding portfolio changes and the disposal of Communicator Corporation Ltd, revenue in the fourth quarter is expected to fall by 5 percent, an improvement on the 7 percent decline in the third quarter.
Net debt is also expected to fall to about 55 million pounds by the end of the year, from 81 million pounds at the half year, as it sold two vacant properties in the fourth quarter.
(Reporting by Arathy S Nair in Bengaluru; Editing by Bernard Orr)