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Strong first half of the year for Northcliffe owners DMGT

More than half of the £159m operating profit for Northcliffe owners Daily Mail & General Trust came from outside the group’s printed titles, latest figures have shown.

The figure of 52 per cent comes despite the newspapers continuing to outperform their markets, according to the company.

The group made an adjusted profit before tax of £135m for the six months to April 1, 2007, an increase of 24 per cent compared with the equivalent figure for the previous year.

The result reflects both trading performance and successful integration of acquisitions.

Interests away from newspaper publishing include business and financial information services, radio and joint ventures with other companies.

Local newspapers arm, Northcliffe Media, recorded an operating profit of £42.5m, up £5.4m – or 15 per cent.

The company report states that in the July to December 2006 ABC period, Northcliffe’s titles continued to outperform the regional newspaper industry in the key evening title market, although sales were 5 per cent lower.

Revenues from digital publishing increased by 58 per cent, largely in the recruitment category.

On a like for like basis, advertising revenues fell by 2.6 per cent – or nearly £4m.

Circulation revenues of £37m were down by two per cent.

The Associated Northcliffe Digital group strengthened its position in jobs and property during the period.

Its operating profit rose by £1.3m – 29 per cent – to £5.8m due mainly to the strength of the jobs division.

AND’s advertising revenues increased by 83 per cent; excluding the effect of acquisitions, growth was 33 per cent, but growth in profitability was restrained by significant investment in developing the businesses.

Chairman Lord Rothermere said in his business report: “We have enjoyed a strong first half. Our newspaper divisions are experiencing modest growth in advertising revenues and our business to business divisions are continuing to see good trading conditions, tempered in sterling terms by the weakness of the US dollar.

“We expect to achieve satisfactory growth for the full year over last year, but not at the same level as has been achieved in the first half.”