DMGT reports ‘challenging’ year for events with 35% drop in underlying revenues for the division

The Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) group of companies, which specialise in events, information and analysis, released full year results 23 November, showing that the outlook for its events division remained “challenging”. Revenues for the Events and Exhibitions business dropped 33% to £79m, with adjusted operating profit down to £4m from £22m a year earlier.

DMGT reported an overall revenue drop of 14% to £1,211m in 2020 on the 2019 figure of £1,411m. Operating profit had dropped for £144m to £90m over the same period. While the overall results were down due to Covid-19 pandemic and planned B2B investment, the group said a strong financial position had been maintained: pro forma net cash stood at £168m, while there were £373m of committed undrawn bank facilities and statutory net cash of £185m. The full year dividend increased +1% to 24.1p.

DMGT's overall results were most positively contributed to by the underlying growth in the Insurance Risk, US Property Information and EdTech businesses. The events and exhibition businesses were more heavily impacted by the effects of coronavirus.

Paul Zwillenberg, CEO, commented: “Our experience through Covid-19 has demonstrated the benefits of the transformation we have implemented over the last four years. The pandemic has brought significant disruption and change to our markets but the strategic and financial actions we have taken have ensured that we coped well and remained on the front foot. 

“We have benefitted from our diversified portfolio of market-leading businesses and strong balance sheet. MailOnline performed strongly, growing revenue and profit margin, and RMS achieved a major milestone in the year, delivering a truly unified model and analytics platform that customers are now migrating to. We have also continued our approach of selective investment to take advantage of the opportunities for value-accretive growth ahead. A compelling example of this is our stake in Cazoo which is currently worth over £400m, a return of over three times on our investment. 

“I am pleased with DMGT’s performance in a highly challenging environment and am immensely proud of the way that everyone at DMGT has responded. We have an embedded performance management culture with a ROI mindset and the Group is resilient, adaptable and future-focused. We will, as always, retain our long-term perspective and our confidence in the future is reflected by the Board’s recommendation to increase the dividend to 24.1 pence per share.” 

dmg events is an organiser of B2B exhibitions and conferences and has industry-leading events in the energy, construction, interiors, hotel, hospitality and leisure sectors. The business has been severely affected by the impact of Covid-19 and no physical events were held in the last seven months of the financial year. Revenues decreased by 35% on an underlying basis for the year, compared to 8% growth in the first five months of the financial year prior to the onset of Covid-19.

ADIPEC and Big 5 Dubai, two of the three largest events, occurred in November 2019 and collectively delivered stable underlying revenues despite challenging conditions in the Middle East, notably in the construction sector. Gastech, the third large event, was postponed a year to September 2021 and is still expected to be held in Singapore.

In terms of portfolio management, the disposal of Genscape, the Energy Information business, in November 2019 reduced DMGT’s sector exposure from six to five.

BuildFax, the US Property Information business, was sold in October 2019. The Group also strengthened its position in existing sectors with bolt-on acquisitions, including dmg events acquiring 11 small events from CWC Group in April 2020, strengthening its presence in Africa and its leading position in the energy sector, as well as a construction event in February 2020.