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Shares dive at Daily Mail after wobble in regional operations

SHARES in the parent company of the 'Irish Daily Mail' plunged yesterday, as a cautious outlook and a collapse in its regional newspaper business weighed on investors.

Daily Mail and General Trust said pre-tax profits for the six months to April 3 -- the first half of its financial year -- rose 20pc to £121m (€140.4m) on revenue of £991m.

The share price however, fell nearly 7.4pc to 448.6p after reporting a 35pc fall in profit at its Northcliffe Media Group, which controls more than 100 regional newspapers in the UK.

"We remain cautious about the outlook for the full year due to the volatile and uncertain market conditions faced by our UK consumer business, where advertising revenues for April and the first three weeks of May have been below last year," said chief executive Martin Morgan.

Associated Newspapers, which runs the 'Irish Daily Mail' and the 'Irish Mail on Sunday' increased 18pc to £46m despite revenue falling 2pc to £438m.

This is due mainly to "headcount savings" and a reduction in promotions which helped offset higher news print costs.

Circulation of the "Daily Mail" fell 1.9pc during the first six months, while 'Mail on Sunday' circulation fell 3.7pc.

In a statement, DMGT said trading had been sluggish during the second half of its year and not even the royal wedding had led to an uptick in trading.

"The nervous consumer and retail market is expected to continue throughout the summer," the company said.

DMGT and Associated Newspapers do not break out numbers for Ireland. Most recent accounts for Associated Newspapers (Ireland) Ltd show that in the year to October 4 2009 the company made a profit after tax of €1.34m. It is sitting on retained losses of €65.4m, however.

Irish Independent