Return to profit for media group Future as massive restructuring reaps rewards

May 19, 2017

Future, the massively restructured Bath-based global media group, has unveiled substantial increases in half-year revenue and profits and forecast further growth.

The group, whose titles include Techradar, and T3, said the strong results were driven by organic growth and acquisitions as well as “a clear focus on operating leverage and cash conversion”.

Future’s shares rose by nearly 13% in early trading on the day the results were announced, lifting its share price above 200p for the first time since its shares were consolidated at the end of January.

Revenue streams have been diversified with a big focus on e-commerce growth and events. During the six months to March 31 it acquired Team Rock for £800,000, a move which brought titles such as Classic Rock, Metal Hammer and Prog into its portfolio.

It also completed the integration of Imagine Publishing, which it acquired last October 2016, and which added 18 periodical magazines and 300 bookazines across the knowledge, history, science, games, tech and creative verticals.

Imagine had substantially enhanced the scale and reach of the group, and brought further operational synergies, Future said.

Half-year pre-tax profit before tax increased significantly to £900,000 against losses over recent years on group revenues up by 35% to £40.9m. Adjusted operating profit increased by 375% to £3.8m – more than the £2.8m achieved in its last full year.

Overall trading for the year to date had been positive, the group said, with its Media division performing strongly with the fast growing revenue streams of e-commerce and events up 72% and 15% year-on-year respectively.

Cashflow performance had also been strong, reducing net debt since the Imagine acquisition financing to £5.2m at the end of the first half with positive cashflow from operations expected to continue in the second half of the year. 

Trading in the second half is expected to be slightly ahead of the board’s expectations.

Chief executive Zillah Byng-Thorne said: “We have delivered another strong performance with substantial increases in both revenue and profitability, driven by organic growth and acquisition. We are seeing clear benefits from our operational gearing and we continue to focus on cash conversion.

“Our strategy to build a global scalable platform business for specialist media with data at its heart is gaining real momentum as we continue to diversify our revenue streams.

“The quality of our content – as a trusted destination for consumers and for our customers – allied with our market-leading and global super brands have driven further significant online audience growth.”

Future said it had invested in content extensions, new launches, re-investment in existing brands and technology to drive the group’s strategy of building a platform business, focused on delivering diversified and recurring revenues through the use of content.

This had resulted in organic growth across the Media division and further expansion of its global reach.

It was also expanding its global reach through strategic partnerships and scaling investments in its platform business by offering digital licensing and franchising of its platforms and brands, through partnerships such as a recently agreed deal with Times of India to license the Techradar platform.

It also enjoyed strong organic revenue growth in core global brands – was up 81%, GamesRadar+ up 40% and up 72% year-on-year.

Future launched a massive restructuring programme three years ago which resulted in scores of job losses and the sale of dozens of non-core titles to refocus on its key areas such as technology and gaming.


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