The owner of the Daily Mail and Mail on Sunday posted a 10% hike in annual profits and said the boom in online advertising was "more than" offsetting pressure on sales of its national titles. 

Turnover at Mail Online raced 48% higher, making up for a 5% fall at the Mail newspapers.

Online advertising revenues at its morning freesheet Metro rose by 44% as monthly website visitors more than doubled year-on-year to 17 million.

The Mail's online operations drew in 9.5 million online readers a day in September, up by nearly 50%.

Daily Mail and General Trust (DMGT) has been spending heavily on the operation and ramping up its presence in the US.

This has been helping counteract tough pressures on print advertising and circulation revenues, which fell 8% and 3% respectively at the Mail newspapers in the year to September 30.

Underlying revenues dipped 1% across its dmg media division - formerly Associated Newspapers - as the performance was dragged lower by a tough final quarter when the group came up against tough comparisons with a year earlier due to the Olympics.

But the group said DMG media revenues had returned to growth in the first seven weeks since the year end, up 1% thanks to burgeoning online revenues.

Britain's embattled newspaper sector has shown encouraging signs that it is combating print sale declines by investing online and having slashed costs in recent years.

Johnston Press, owner of The Scotsman, last week reported a 45% surge in online revenues in October, helping its operating profits lift by 8% in the 18 weeks to November 2.

Trinity Mirror also recently pleased investors by upping profit expectations for the year thanks to a marked improvement in third quarter revenue declines.

DMGT's underlying pre-tax profits rose 10% to £282m sterling in the year to September 30, excluding figures for its Northcliffe Media regional newspaper division, which was sold at the end of December for £52.5m to Local World, a new company led by former Mirror Group Newspapers boss David Montgomery.

The Daily Mail group has a 39% stake in Local World, which also features the newspaper assets of Iliffe News & Media, including titles such as Cambridge News.

As well as a 10% rise in underlying earnings at DMG Media, its annual results were boosted by robust trading in its business-to-business and events divisions, which saw underlying operating profits rise 4% and 14% respectively.

Years of cost cutting and restructuring have likewise buoyed earnings and DMGT has recently launched a £53m printing plant at Thurrock, helping it slash the number of UK production plants to two from eight five years ago.