‘Challenging conditions’ hit profits at Future while tough outlook puts its share price under pressure

May 19, 2023

Shares in Bath-based global media group Future were recovering this afternoon after millions of pounds were wiped off their value yesterday when it warned of the impact of challenging market conditions.

The group, which recently replaced the CEO responsible for its huge turnaround over the past decade, said it expects its full-year performance to be “towards the bottom end of current market expectations”. 

That outlook, which accompanied its half-year results to end of March, triggered a 17.3% slump in its share price on the London Stock Exchange yesterday. Its shares were today back up by just over 3%.

Future, whose titles span Country Life, Classic Rock and Decanter, has been a star performer of the UK and US media sectors overs recent years – with a growth in its share price to match.

Under previous CEO Zillah Byng-Thorne, who spent nine years in the job, Future was transformed from a loss-making mainly UK business into an international group worth around £2bn and with 250 titles.

In February it said its diverse range of products – which spans magazines, websites and digital marketing platforms in areas as different as fashion, finance and tech – was protecting it from the consumer spending slowdown. 

But new CEO Jon Steinberg, pictured, who joined last month from New York-based cable TV provider Altice USA’s news & advertising division, found his first major task in the role was to report a fall in profits and half-year revenues flat at £404.7m.

Stripping out contributions from Future’s latest acquisitions and the effects of favourable foreign currency exchanges, revenues were down by 10%. Pre-tax profits for the period were down 18% to £66.4m.

Future said this reflected “the challenging macroeconomic backdrop, including audience decline in our markets”.

Mr Steinberg added: “I am excited to have joined Future and by the significant opportunity to build on the unique position it has in the digital media landscape.

"In my first six weeks I have been extremely impressed with the depth of talent and energy throughout the organisation and, looking ahead, my priorities will be to further enhance our brand leadership positions, continue to diversify and grow our monetisation opportunities, and maximise value for all our stakeholders.

“The macroeconomic environment remains tough, but we are well positioned to continue to outperform the industry.

“Our investment in new strategic verticals, coupled with the group’s tech stack and operating model, will create long-term value for our stakeholders.”

Future’s dizzying but highly successful buy-and-build policy under Ms Byng-Thorne included snapping up the firm behind Go Compare insurance for £594m, the £300m takeover of magazine publisher Dennis – which greatly expanded its reach in the US – and the £140m takeover of TI Media, which added 40 titles including Horse & Hound, Woman & Home and Wallpaper, to its portfolio.


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