DMGT resilient in challenging conditions

Daily Mail and General Trust reports a resilient performance in the year to the end of September in challenging market conditions.

Group revenue for the year was £1,917 million, in line with the prior year on an underlying basis.

Revenue grew by 4% on a reported basis, from £1,845 million, including the benefit of the stronger US dollar relative to sterling and the occurrence of the Gastech event this year.

Good underlying growth was delivered in digital advertising and subscriptions, offset by the revenue decline in print advertising.

Due to improving revenue performances from Euromoney and dmg media, the group delivered underlying growth of 1% in the second half of the year, following a 1% decline in the first half. Adjusted operating profit declined by an underlying 11% to £277 million. The reduction was principally due to dmg media, which increased digital investment and suffered an underlying 12% decline in print advertising revenues, and to Euromoney, which saw revenues decline by an underlying 4%.

Including the benefit of the stronger US dollar relative to sterling and the occurrence of Gastech, the reported decline in operating profit was 4%. The operating margin was 14%, compared to 16% in the prior year, and was adversely affected by lower margins at dmg media and Euromoney and by the impact of early-stage acquisitions and organic investment at dmg information.

The Group's B2B businesses, including allocated Corporate costs, grew adjusted operating profits by 4% on a reported basis, an underlying decline of 5%.

dmg media's operating profits declined 20%, an underlying decrease of 23% and, including allocated Corporate costs, an underlying decline of 29%. B2B businesses generated 78% of this year's adjusted operating profit with 22% generated by consumer businesses, compared to 72% and 28% for the prior year.

The shift reflects a continuation of the long-term trend of the growing significance of the B2B businesses.

Over half of the Group's operating profits were derived from outside the UK, with 40% coming from North America.

Adjusted profit before tax declined by 7% to £260 million. This reflects the decline in operating profit and a £10 million decline in income from joint ventures and associates, including a £17 million reduction in respect of Local World, following DMGT's disposal of its stake in November 2015.

Finance charges, including DMGT's share of associates' interest costs, remained stable at £40 million. Adjusted Group profit after tax and minority interests was down 8% to £198 million, reflecting the decline in profit before tax.

Adjusted earnings per share decreased by 6% to 56.0p. The full year dividend increased by 3% to 22.0p, in line with the group's dividend policy of delivering real dividend growth. The statutory profit before tax for the year was £247 million after £96 million of amortisation and impairment charges in respect of goodwill and acquired intangible assets, £55 million of net exceptional charges, including £37 million of reorganisation costs, and £138m of net gains on disposals, notably Local World and Wowcher.

Statutory profit after tax was £214 million and statutory earnings per share decreased from 60.1p to 57.8p.

Chief executive Paul Zwillenberg said: "DMGT's results reflect the ongoing resilience of the portfolio through varying market conditions. Revenues were supported by good organic growth in many of our B2B and consumer digital operations. This was balanced by challenging market conditions for print advertising, property information, energy and financial sectors. "Our focus has been on prudent financial and strategic management of DMGT's diversified portfolio. We have continued to invest in long-term growth opportunities across a variety of organic initiatives whilst making small bolt-on acquisitions, maintaining a strong balance sheet and continuing to deliver real dividend growth for our shareholders. "The significant organic and M&A investments made across the Group over the past few years have started to bear fruit. Alongside this we have been expanding MailOnline while our newspapers continue to outperform the market. "The Group has many strengths. It is a diversified portfolio of businesses that operate in high-potential markets with market-leading content and proprietary data. DMGT attracts and retains entrepreneurs and benefits from having a long-term perspective. There are also opportunities for improvement and DMGT's revised strategy is built around delivering the potential within our existing portfolio. We have established clear priorities to improve our operational execution, increase the portfolio's focus and enhance our financial flexibility. There is plenty to be done and I am confident that, over time, the revised strategy will reinvigorate DMGT's growth."