Daily Mail says made a good start to new year

Thu Nov 22, 2012 8:55am GMT

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(Reuters) - Britain's Daily Mail & General Trust said it had made a good start to its new financial year after reporting a 10 percent rise in full-year profit, helped by strong growth in its business-to-business trade division.

The news sent shares in the group up 11 percent in early trading, although the Daily Mail did say it remained cautious in the medium term as first quarter consumer trading to date had been a little slow.

Advertising revenue from the Associated business, which comprises the company's national print and digital titles, was down 5 percent in the first seven weeks of the fiscal year from October 1, with continued limited visibility of future trends.

To offset this, the publisher of the Mail on Sunday and Daily Mail said its business-to-business division was expected to make good progress in the year ahead.

Daily Mail, which also runs events, has been helped in recent years by the solid performance of the trade division and the resilience of its national unit in the face of volatile advertising revenues.

Adjusted profit before tax for the year ended September 30. rose to 255 million pounds ($406.3 million) from 232 million pounds a year earlier from revenue down 1 percent to 1.96 billion pounds.

Profit from the business-to-business operations was up by 7 percent while operating profit was up by 3 percent at the Associated Newspapers, helped by the company's digital operations and price hikes in publications.

Daily Mail raised its final dividend to 12.4 pence per share from 11.7 pence a year earlier and said it would launch a share buy back programme of up to 100 million pounds over the coming year.

The results came one day after the Daily Mail agreed to sell its regional titles to a new company led by tabloid veteran David Montgomery in the biggest shake up of the British newspaper market for years.

Under the plans, Daily Mail will sell its titles to the new company - Local World - for 52.5 million pounds and receive 39 percent of the new media group.

(Reporting by Karen Rebelo, editing by Kate Holton)

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