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Fairfax Posts 10% Rise on Full-Year Profit

Australian newspaper publisher Fairfax Media said on Thursday year net profit rose 10%, close to expectations, on improved performances for its digital businesses and its regional and rural publications.

Fairfax, which owns newspapers in Australia and New Zealand, said net profit before one-offs for the year to June 30 was A$251.1 million (US$202.5 million). Consensus analyst forecasts pointed to a profit of A$253.2 million, according to the mean of nine forecasts by Reuters Estimates.

Fairfax, which agreed to buy rural media group Rural Press for A$2.8 billion last year, said it was on track to deliver A$45 million in cost savings from the deal with almost half to be accounted for this year.

Fairfax, previously considered a takeover target when Australia's media ownership laws were relaxed earlier this year, has made a string of recent acquisitions to deter predators.

Last month it agreed to buy assets from Southern Cross Broadcasting which is being bought by Macquarie Media.

Chief Executive David Kirk said it expected to deliver A$22 million in cost savings from the integration or Rural Press in the current fiscal year, while its Fairfax Digital business had shown strong growth.

"Strong performance in our digital businesses, regional and rural publications, financial publishing and magazines more than offset ongoing economic weakness in the greater Sydney metro market and in New Zealand," Kirk said.

Fairfax shares, which have risen about 1% so far this year, closed Wednesday at A$4.82.