British newspaper group Daily Mail & General Trust
Pretax profit rose 3 percent to 237 million pounds, slightly ahead of expectations, as the group's business-to-business operations compensated for weakness in advertising revenues at its regional newspapers and flagship Daily Mail tabloid.
The group, whose Mail on Sunday newspaper was accused this week by actor Hugh Grant of having hacked into his phone messages, reiterated that it had not engaged in illegal newsgathering, to the best of the editor-in-chief's knowledge.
It said on Wednesday it would raise its 2011 dividend by 6 percent to 17.0 pence, in line with forecasts.
Analysts had expected sales of 1.99 billion pounds, pretax profit of 234 million pounds, earnings per share of 47.18 pence and a dividend of 16.97 pence, according to Thomson Reuters StarMine's SmartEstimates.
Whilst first quarter trading to date has been reasonable, we remain cautious about the medium term outlook, given continuing external uncertainties, particularly for UK advertising, Chief Executive Martin Morgan said in a statement.
The company said it expected to deliver underlying growth in revenue and profit at its B2B units, which include events and financial information, and that performance at its newspapers would depend on the advertising environment and cost cuts.
(Reporting by Georgina Prodhan; editing by Kate Holton)