British newspaper group Daily Mail & General Trust has posted a fall in annual profit as a result of investment in new ventures – in particular the national rollout of its free daily paper, Metro.

EBITDA (earnings before interest, taxes and amortization) for the year ended 1 October was £191.5 million ($278m) compared with £205m last fiscal. During the period, new project costs, including those of Metro and electronic publishing ventures, rose from £20m to £69m.

Advertising income remained buoyant: "Both display and classified advertising showed healthy growth, with financial and travel categories particularly strong," said the group, whose flagship national titles are the Daily Mail and The Mail on Sunday.

On a more sombre note, DMGT warned that 2001 is likely to see higher newsprint prices and increased competition in national newspapers. However: "Directors are confident that the strength of the group's brands and businesses will enable them to present satisfactory results in a year's time.”

News source: BBC Online Business News (UK)