MailOnline, the popular celebrity-fuelled website of DMGT, reported a surge in advertising revenues in the six months to the end of March, as the publisher of the Daily Mail newspaper increases its efforts to boost digital revenues.

Revenues at the website rose 61 per cent to £20m, contrasting with declines at its traditional media division.

However, revenues at the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday fell 6 per cent year-on-year to £287m amid continued declines in print circulation, despite a 5p increase in February in the cover price of the Daily Mail to 60p. DMGT said that it had increased its market share for both titles over the past 12 months.

In the seven weeks since the end of March, the company added that underlying advertising revenues at DMG Media, which houses the group’s national titles including the Daily Mail, its Sunday sister and free sheet the Metro, were up 2 per cent, despite a 2 per cent fall in circulation.

The climb indicated that digital growth was offsetting declines in print, analysts said.

In half-year results for the publisher, revenues at DMGT fell 6 per cent to £915m, in line with recent guidance from the company’s February interim management statement. Underlying revenues across the group, taking into account disposals such as the sale of its local newspapers arm Northcliffe Media to Local World, were up 2 per cent.

The company said that Local World, a joint venture between Trinity Mirror, DMGT and the Yattendon Group, was on target to make profits of £30m, ahead of its original plan, as integration savings were more quickly realised.

The company’s business-to-business division delivered underlying revenue growth of 6 per cent, with profit growth of 5 per cent.

Martin Morgan, chief executive, said: “We have delivered a good underlying performance in the first half reflecting the strength of our B2B companies and the resilience of our national consumer titles.”

Pre-tax profit at the publisher rose 30 per cent to £137m with earnings per share up 32 per cent to 25.8p. The company announced a dividend of 5.9p, compared with 5.6p last time.

FT comment: Shares in DMGT climbed 1.6 per cent on Thursday, taking gains in the group’s shares to more than 45 per cent over the past six months. This has put the company’s shares on a price-to-earnings multiple of close to 15 times consensus estimates for full-year earnings. DMGT deserves a premium rating given that digital ad revenues at its media division are now outstripping declines in print advertising. Whether its shares have further to rise depends not just on how fast it can grow digital, but also how well it can manage these declines in traditional media.

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