Today’s forlorn task: scan this morning’s trading update from the Daily Mail group in search of reasons to be optimistic about the future for newspapers.
DMGT is almost certainly the best run media company in the UK and 50% of it is outside the consumer space – insurance, property, education and, erm, exhibitions (oops).
Interesting to note that, unlike MailOnline, it isn’t trying to give those services away and hoping that the magic internet advertising fairy will make them profitable.
Anyway, the newspapers saw advertising down 11% in the last nine months, with circulation down 7%.
Lockdown made the structural decline in those businesses even more severe and as one analyst told me there is “nothing heroically confident in the outlook”.
An increase in cover prices has helped offset falling circulation and the Mail titles continue to grow their share of a declining market.
A rise in online traffic has mitigated the fall in advertising spend – a bit.
The group still has cash on hand of £144 million, so it will be fine for years yet.
DMGT shares rose nicely today as the City digested the figures.
Still, if this is how it looks at the most successful newspaper group, at the rest it must be plain ugly.