The publisher of the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday has revealed it swung to a loss during the coronavirus lockdown, but said its newspaper arm returned to profit last month.
Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT), which also owns the Metro and i newspapers and a raft of other businesses, sank to underlying operating losses of £2 million for the three months to June 30, against profits of £22 million a year earlier.
For the nine months of its year so far, it saw underlying operating profits slump 44% to £63 million after the third-quarter hit as advertising revenues and newspaper sales were hammered during the lockdown.
But it said the newspaper division and all businesses, except for its events arm, were profitable in June, helping shares lift 2%.
Its update showed the toll taken on the industry by the lockdown, with newspaper advertising plummeting 69% in its third quarter to June 30 and digital ad revenues off 17%.
This left total underlying ad revenues down 45% in the quarter and 12% lower over the nine months.
Circulation fell 12% in the third quarter, it added.
The Metro free paper was particularly badly hit by the lockdown, with circulation around a quarter of its usual level, given that it is largely distributed on public transport.
DMGT said: “Since March, the impact of Covid-19 has resulted in a pronounced reduction in advertising revenues across both print and digital formats.
“Growth in online traffic has helped to mitigate the impact on digital but not enough to compensate for the overall reduction in advertising spend.”
Overall group underlying revenues fell 23% in the quarter to June and were 7% lower over the nine months.