Supermarket price wars lift ad revenue for the Daily Mail
THE UK publisher of the 'Daily Mail' says supermarket price wars and new mobile phones lifted newspaper advertising in January, while the publisher of the 'New York Times' reports that the ad market across the Atlantic remains "challenging."
Sales of the London-based Daily Mail & General Trust fell in the final quarter of last year, but margins improved at both its consumer and business-to-business operations, resulting in roughly flat adjusted operating profit.
The last three months of the year are the publisher's first financial quarter. "Trading in the first quarter has been ahead of our expectations and the new calendar year has started well, but we remain cautious about the outlook for the rest of the year, particularly in the UK," chief executive Martin Morgan said.
The trust has cut costs by selling off loss-making assets such as the 'Evening Standard', closing its 'London Lite' freesheet and Teletext TV service and shedding workers.
The company merged 'Metro', a Dublin-based freesheet it part owned, with Independent News & Media's 'Herald AM' title to create 'Metro Herald' early last month.
Analysts said the trust may sell off more assets but the main focus will be on organic growth. The company has no plans to take part in the consolidation of the UK's regional newspaper market after rival Guardian Media agreed earlier this week to sell its regional titles to Trinity Mirror.
"Understandably, the group is cautious on the outlook for the remainder of its financial year, particularly in the UK," analysts at brokerage Numis said. "We expect to hold our forecasts at this early stage in the year, but see clear scope for upgrades through the year."
Sales to consumers fell 9pc to £297m in the last quarter of 2009, while business-to-business sales were down 7pc at £186m.
National advertising sales fell 11pc in the quarter.
Across the Atlantic, advertising sales at the New York Times Group slumped 15pc. Print advertising sales dropped 20pc at the media group which includes the 'New York Times', 'Boston Globe' and other papers.
The fall was not quite as bad as the 25pc decline forecast by the publisher last year or a 31pc fall posted in the third quarter. (Additional reporting Bloom- berg and Reuters)