Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) has reported a short-term fall in traffic to its flagship website, but said it expects Mail Online to generate revenues of more than £45m for the full year as advertising on the site continues to boom.
In a trading update focused on its media division, the company revealed that the rise in revenues from digital advertising more than made up for the fall in revenues from print advertising sales.
It said print advertising revenues from the current media portfolio in the five months to February 28 were down £11m on the same period last year, but digital advertising revenues from the current portfolio had risen by £13m.
However, total revenues in the media division – which accounts for half of sales – declined 2 per cent in the same period, on an underlying basis, which includes like-for-like sales but excludes currency changes, disposals, closures and most acquisitions.
This was an improvement on the 4 per cent decline in the first quarter, though, and was offset by a 5 per cent rise in revenues at DMGT’s business-to-business publishing division, which includes Risk Management Solutions, DMG Information, DMG Events and Euromoney Institutional Investor.
At a group level, DMGT, which publishes the Daily Mail, the Mail on Sunday and the free Metro paper, reported revenue growth of 2 per cent in the five month period.
Looking to build optimism around its media business ahead of an investor day on Tuesday, the company said Mail Online, its popular celebrity-fuelled website, had 111m unique browsers in February, with 43 per cent of all visits coming via mobile devices.
This was 16m fewer than in January, when tracking service ComScore said Mail Online had become world’s most visited newspaper website, but was up 22 per cent on the year before. In advertising, Mail Online revenues grew 58 per cent, against an 8 per cent fall in print, to leave overall advertising revenues in the media division up 1 per cent.
Wowcher, the daily deals website, reached £1m in monthly revenue for the first time in February. DMGT forecast that its Zoopla property group will generate more than £60m in revenues for the full year, and Evenbase, its job site division, will attract more than £80m.
But while investors welcomed the encouraging numbers – DMGT shares closed up 2.5 per cent on Monday – one analyst said the group needed to give more detailed and consistent disclosure on the performance of its digital business.
DMGT said its profit margin had increased year on year despite investment in the digital business, owing in part to the sale of printing facilities last year. It has also cut 605 jobs, or 16 per cent of its workforce, since its full-year results in September, with most jobs going as the result of disposals.
The company added that it had spent £32m to buy back 5.4m shares, as part of the £100m share buy-back programme announced last year.