DMGT suffers setback as advertising sales slide

The owner of the Daily Mail suffered a surprise fall in advertising revenues at its national and regional titles last month and warned of the ongoing effects of the "volatile and uncertain" markets this year. Shares in Daily Mail & General Trust (DMGT) closed more than 7 per cent lower after the company released its half-yearly financial report yesterday.

The fall was prompted by an uncertain outlook for the consumer business from the chief executive Martin Morgan, who revealed that advertising for April and the first three weeks of May had fallen below last year's. He said the company "remains cautious about the outlook for the full year due to the volatile and uncertain market conditions faced by our UK consumer businesses".

Advertising revenues at its national titles fell 5 per cent despite Easter and the Royal Wedding during the period. At its regional arm, advertising was 10 per cent lower.

The fall in advertising revenues were offset by strength in its business-to-business operations. Total revenues at the group rose 3 per cent to £991m in the six months to 3 April. Pre-tax profits were up a fifth to £121m. Mr Morgan called the performance "satisfactory", adding that it reflected "the benefits of DMGT's diversified international portfolio". The board added that despite the performance of the consumer businesses it expects to grow in the full financial year.

Revenues at Associated Newspapers, which includes the Mail titles, fell 2 per cent although operating profits rose 18 per cent to £46m. The Mail's online operation continued to grow, with almost 66 million unique visitor numbers in March, 68 per cent higher than a year earlier.

The group's regional arm, Northcliffe Media fared less well, with revenues falling 9 per cent to £120m and operating profits plunging 35 per cent to £8m. Advertising revenues were down 9 per cent while circulation revenues fell 6 per cent.

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