Economist reports a boost in operating profits, circulation, web traffic and digital subscriber numbers

Digital-only subscribers of the Economist have topped 100,000 for the first time, with a further 300,000 print subscribers reading the newspaper on a digital device each week. The milestone was reached at the end of October, the publisher of the title reported today.

The figures were released as the publisher of the Economist reported a 6 per cent year-on-year increase in operating profits to £26.2 million.

Worldwide ad revenues were up by 12 per cent at the Economist across platforms, overall despite a 16 per cent fall in UK advertising.

Interim results for the the six months ended 30 September show a 4 per cent year-on-year increase in revenues to £164.3 million for the Economist Group, which is 50 per cent owned by Financial Times publisher Pearson.

In the chairman's report, Rupert Pennant-Rea says the rise in profits comes "despite difficult economic conditions in many parts of the world.

"Had it not been for a weaker US dollar, underlying operating profit would have grown by 11 per cent and revenues by 8 per cent."

The report also details investments in digital, including smartphone and tablet apps and Kindle editions.

"Encouragingly, the demand for digital editions has exceeded our expectations," the chairman's report states, with readers having downloaded more than three million apps since launch, and the Economist being read on one million Apple and Android devices each month. These figures include both free "editor's choice" articles and paying subscribers.

Web traffic is also up, with readership of the Economist online growing by 45 per cent since September 2010 to more than seven million.

Print sales are also up. Circulation grew by 3 per cent to 1,486,838 copies in the January-June 2011 ABC audit period compared with the same period last year. UK circulation rose by 8 per cent to 210,318.

Ad revenue across all platforms grew by 12 per cent, but with large discrepancies.

In the US, ad revenue was up 31 per cent and in Asia it grew by 29 per cent; however in continental Europe, the Middle East and Africa (CEMEA) was there was no change and in the UK it declined by 16 per cent.

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