Future looks bright as its shares climb on expectations of much higher profits

September 11, 2020

Shares in Bath media group Future reached their highest-ever price today after it said it expected annual profits to be much better than previously forecast.

The group has been one of the few in the media industry to shrug off the impact of Covid-19 – a fact it puts down to its strong digital brands. 

In an update trading statement earlier this week Future said it continued to benefit from the trend in a shift to digital media.

Last month organic unique visitor numbers in the UK and US were up 25% and 40% respectively compared to the same period last year, according to Google Analytics.

It said it had also achieved a better-than-expected second-half performance from TI Media, the London-based publisher it acquired in  April  for £140m and which added 38 brands such as Decanter, Country Life, Homes&Garden and Woman & Home, to its portfolio.

It said these two combined meant its full-year adjusted operating profit was now expected to be “materially ahead” of current market expectations, which range from £78.2m to £83.2m.

Last year’s adjusted operating profit was £52.2m.

Future’s shares inched up on Monday after the trading update. They climbed again today and by mid-morning were trading at £18.14 each – almost three times their value in March this year.

The shares’ previous highest price was last November when they reached £15.27.

The statement, covering the year to the end of September, said the integration of TI Media remained on track and the group continued to make good progress.

Following the launch of three new websites earlier in the summer to take advantage of the shift to digital during lockdown and increased traffic to hobby sites, Future recently started Advnture.com, picturedand Petsradar.com.

Future, whose portfolio includes titles ranging from Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and What Hi-Fi?, to global platforms such as Techradar, PCGamer.com and T3, also said it had also successfully migrated both TI’s finance and the magazine subscription systems onto common platforms. Delivery on synergies from the takeover had continued to progress well with £10m already secured, of which at least £3m would benefit the full-year to the end of September. 

As a result, Future now anticipates annual cost synergies of £20m by the end of the full year to September 2021, ahead of earlier forecasts of £15m.

Future said it continued to expect that synergies would be delivered in line with the original cost-to-achieve ratio.

CEO Zillah Byng-Thorne, who has led a full-scale restructuring of the business since she joined in 2013, including a spate of acquisition in the UK and US, said: “We are delighted the strong group performance has continued, putting Future on track to deliver full-year results materially ahead of expectations.

“Whilst macro uncertainty remains in light of the pandemic, we are well positioned to benefit from the continued shift to digital media as we grow our global audiences.”

Future’s full-year results for the year ending September 30 are due to be published on December 2.


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