The owner of the Daily Mail today said its media revenue dropped by a third in April as it posted a sharp fall in profit for the first six months of the year.
Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) posted pre-tax profit of £56m in the six months to the end of March, down from £100m in the same period last year.
Revenue also slipped five per cent from £724m to £690m.
Earnings per share were down by a third at 15p.
Why it’s interesting
DMGT today said its trading had been strong in the first five months of the financial year, but that the Covid-19 impact had started to weigh in March.
The media group also made the unusual move of giving a short-term trading update for April.
It warned the turbulent market conditions had continued into April, with group revenue down 23 per cent and an adjusted operating loss of £3m over the month.
Shares in DMGT fell just over five per cent in early trading.
The impact of coronavirus was hardest felt in the firm’s consumer media division, which oversees the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday titles, as well as Mail Online, Metro and the i newspaper.
DMGT said consumer media revenue was down 33 per cent in April as the pandemic hit both circulation and advertising income.
In the four weeks to 24 May this was expected to improve only marginally to a 30 per cent fall.
The main driver behind the decline was print advertising, which plummeted 70 per cent.
As a result, the publisher said it would record a loss in its media division for both months.
It came despite growth for the MailOnline, which recorded a 33 per cent rise in daily unique browsers to 16.9m as people flocked to the news site for updates about the coronavirus.
DMGT said its revenue over the period had benefitted from four months of trading for the i newspaper, which it bought from JPI Media in a £50m deal last year.
Metro, which is distributed free on the Tube, posted a one per cent increase in revenue despite seeing its circulation crash to just a quarter of normal levels.
But DMGT warned it was “too early to assess the extent to which readership habits may permanently change once lockdown measures are lifted completely”.
The Covid-19 crisis has also taken its toll on DMGT’s events and exhibitions division.
The company said it has cancelled all events from March to August, as well as the Gastech conference scheduled for September.
DMGT booked costs of £11m due to cancellations, £8m of which was moved forward from the second half of the year.
What DMGT said
“As you would expect, we have taken measured actions on investments and costs, both at a group and individual business level, but our strategy remains the same,” said chief executive Paul Zwillenberg.
“We will continue to invest, in a disciplined manner, through the cycle where we are confident of the returns. All of our businesses are market leading and I am highly confident that they will come out of this global crisis stronger and fitter.”