An Post has reported pre-tax profits of €7m for 2004, following losses of €30m in 2003. The turnaround follows three years of escalating losses, but the state-owned company is still applying to increase the price of a 48 cent stamp to 60 cent.

An Post's strong profits were helped by the sale of some properties and the capping of costs. Under the surface, it had an operating profit of €1.8m on 5.8% higher turnover of €750.2m. Staff and postmasters costs at €502.4m were marginally up on the previous year, while other costs decreased.

The company said future prospects were uncertain. Mail volumes have declined by 1.3% since 2003 despite good economic growth.

The company said it implemented stringent controls of overtime and recruitment. It also refused to give increases due under the national wage agreement.

While today's results are strong, An Post's message is similar to those of state-owned Aer Lingus and Dublin Airport Authority. All of them say they need to restructure to survive in the long term.