£100m buyback lifts Mail

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SHARES in Daily Mail & General Trust soared to near two-year highs yesterday when it announced a £100 million share buyback and posted a bigger-than-expected 10 per cent rise in underlying annual profits.

The owner of the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday revealed group pre-tax profits rose £23m to £255m, a day after saying it is to sell its regional titles to a new company led by media veteran David Montgomery, Revenues were up just 1 per cent at £1.96 billion.

Shares in DMGT closed up 10 per cent, or 50p, at 524p, as it proposed a lift in the final dividend to 12.4p from 11.7p for the year to end-September, and the buyback over the coming year was announced.

The total dividend pay-out rises 6 per cent to 18p from 17p. DMGT, whose regional newspaper arm Northcliffe is being sold to new company Local World, said its latest performance was helped by strong growth in its business-to-business trade division.

DMGT chief executive Martin Morgan said the regional sale “completed the final planks” of a four-year reorganisation of the company that sees nearly four-fifths of profits now coming from business services rather than consumer-facing media.

“We’re very comfortable with the portfolio,” Morgan said.