Daily Mail owner set to unveil falling profits – but many analysts are optimistic

Oliver Gill
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Shares in Daily Mail & General Trust have risen more than 15 per cent since mid-September

Annual profits at the owner of the Daily Mail are expected to fall when they are unveiled on Thursday, though analysts have cut an optimistic tone amid a recent rally in the firm's share price.

City brokers have pencilled in a consensus adjusted profit before tax of £214.6m for Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) for the year to September, compared with £259.6m in 2016. Earnings per share are projected to dip to 51.6p from 56.0p.

Goldman Sachs has the most bearish opinion of DMGT, reckoning profit before tax will fall to £199.6m. JP Morgan Cazenove is at the other end of the spectrum, forecasting £233.4m of profits.

In October, DMGT said profit would be at the lower end of expectations, with underlying revenue creeping up one per cent in 11 months to August.

Shares in the media giant fell to 609p in September, a level last seen five years ago. But since then, the firm's stock market valuation has risen over 15 per cent, closing at 704.37p on Friday.

Read more: Here's why shares in the Daily Mail's owner dropped today

Print advertising sales have fallen but have been offset by a growth in MailOnline advertising revenue.

"The shares have underperformed, given a perfect storm of cyclical headwinds and investment in future growth, but the storm clouds are clearing," Berenberg analyst Alastair Reid wrote in a note on 16 November.

Easier cyclical conditions combined with returns on previous investment and portfolio restructuring should deliver an improving operational performance. Despite the risk of modest further investment, the full-year results should start to focus attention on the scope for accelerating growth, cash returns and multiple expansion.

Meanwhile, Liberum analyst Ian Whittaker highlighted the 11-month update "should be taken mildly positive".

He said: "There is no further scaling back of forecasts and some signs of improvement plus a commitment to give an update on the strategic review at the full-year results presentation."

Read more: MailOnline growth drives advertising boost for DMGT

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