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Daily Mail owner swings to operating loss in April as pandemic bites

Daily Mail owner DMGT has posted a 23 per cent drop in total group revenue for April and swung to an operating loss as the effects of the coronavirus pandemic began to bite.

The media and events group reported an adjusted operating loss of £3m for April, the month in which strict lockdowns began to take effect on businesses and economies worldwide. That loss compared with a £5m profit in the same month a year ago. First-half adjusted revenue fell 5 per cent to £690m from the same period a year ago. The group did not specify the April revenue in figures.

Nonetheless, the London-listed group raised its interim dividend 3 per cent to 7.5p a share, which it said reflected its first-half trading performance.

DMGT shares fell 6.5 per cent in early London trading on Thursday, bringing its decline for the year to more than 15 per cent.

Almost all of the group’s second-half events have been cancelled or postponed, with £8m of accelerated costs recognised in the first half.

“Covid-19 is adversely affecting the consumer media, UK property information and events and exhibitions businesses,” the group said on Thursday.

“The severity and duration of the Covid-19 crisis remains unclear but DMGT has a robust balance sheet, access to significant funding and a diversified portfolio,” chief executive Paul Zwillenberg said. “This gives me, and the board, confidence that we will weather the current storm and withstand a sustained period of global economic uncertainty.”

DMGT, the parent company of the Daily Mail titles, MailOnline, known for its racy celebrity coverage, and Metro, has attempted to simplify its sprawling business in recent years.

The company, which disposed of some of its property and energy assets late last year, added bolt-on acquisitions such as the i, the UK national newspaper and website, in November. In March, it raised its stake to 23 per cent in Cazoo, an online start-up that seeks to change the way people buy used cars in the UK.