By Paul Sandle
LONDON (Reuters) – Daily Mail owner DMGT (L:) said the COVID-19 pandemic caused revenue at its consumer media business to fall by a third in April and by an estimated 30% in May compared to the same months last year.
The British company said that despite sharp falls in advertising and circulation caused by the lockdown, the consumer unit would be close to breaking even this month, demonstrating the strength of its print titles and MailOnline website.
It reported flat revenue for the half-year ending in March, before most of the impact of the coronavirus crisis.
Advertising across both print and digital fell 46% year-on-year in April, and would be down 45% in May, it said. Circulation revenue was showing signs of improvement this month, when it would be down just 9% compared to down 17% in April.
Finance chief Tim Collier said readers wanted to read DMGT’s newspapers, which include the Daily Mail, Mail on Sunday, “i” and Metro freesheet, and they were increasingly managing to get their hands on copies during lockdown.
He said moves to ease the lockdown, with more shops opening next month, would hopefully increase advertising demand.
DMGT’s events and exhibition and property information businesses were also hit by the crisis, with all events cancelled from March to August and both commercial and residential property transactions slowing sharply.
But it said its insurance risk, U.S. property information and education technology businesses were resilient, with underlying revenue growing 5% in April when the pandemic was at its peak in Europe.
“All of our businesses are market leading and I am highly confident that they will come out of this global crisis stronger and fitter,” Chief Executive Paul Zwillenberg said.
DMGT reported underlying pretax profit of 56 million pounds ($68.7 million) for the six months to end-March on flat revenue of 690 million pounds.
It increased its half-year dividend by 3% to 7.5 pence, which it said reflected the strength of its trading performance.
DMGT’s shares were trading down 6% at 707.5 pence.
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