The Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT), the company behind the world’s most popular English-language news website, MailOnline, saw its share price plunge by 27% on Thursday morning after it announced pre-tax annual losses of £112 million ($151 million).
The trust also announced that next year would be “adversely affected by recent disposals and challenging conditions.” Last year it made a £202 million profit.
The loss was down to impairment charges taken against the values of three of DMGT’s investments: Genscape, Xceligent and SiteCompli. Xceligent, a U.S. real estate information service, is a particularly interesting case as it is embroiled in a legal war with rival CoStar.
CoStar claims that Xceligent systematically copied its data—something that a Xceligent contractor recently said was true. DMGT, which has invested around $150 million in Xceligent since buying it five years ago, cut ties with founder Doug Curry.
In its annual results, DMGT said: “Xceligent’s revenue growth in New York has been slower than previously expected and, given the significant further investment and time required to achieve full national coverage, a decision has been taken to reduce the carrying value of the business to zero, resulting in an impairment charge of £42 million.”
“Xceligent now has a new management team in place and a strategic review of the business is in progress,” DMGT said.
The biggest impairment charge, of £140 million, was for GenScape, a commodities and energy markets intelligence service. DMGT blamed this on challenging energy market conditions that were down to “the sustained low oil price and low price volatility environment and, most notably, a change in distribution channels for the U.S. residential solar market.”
As for SiteCompli, a real estate compliance data service, the firm’s “planned expansion into the national retail market has proved more challenging than previously expected and an impairment charge of £24 million has been taken in respect of its carrying value.”
MailOnline is doing just fine. The flagship website brought in £119 million in revenues for the year, up from £93 million the year before, and is profitable. The Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday print newspapers, however, saw revenues fall 6% from £484 million to £455 million.