International exhibition organiser, information and research group Informa has announced a fifth consecutive year of improving growth and increasing adjusted profits. The full year results for the 12 months to 31 December 2018, released 7 March, were achieved while the company conducted full integration of UBM into the Informa portfolio. In terms of the Global Exhibitions operating division in 2018, Informa delivered strong underlying revenue growth of +6.7%.
The group reported a reset and rebrand of the divisional portfolio with the creation of a new division: Informa Tech.
The group now operates in all major regions and said that 65% of future revenue was "predictable", with more than half of exhibitor and around two-thirds of subscription revenues for 2019 already booked.
The company said that, combined with AIP (Accelerated Integration Plan) benefits on both revenues and costs, it has confidence it can deliver continuing underlying revenue growth, improving margins and strong cashflow in 2019.
Underlying revenue growth was put at +3.7% and +34.9% reported to £2,369.5m, including six months of UBM (2017: £1,756.8m).
Underlying adjusted operating profit was +2.3% and +34.4% reported to £732.1m (2017: £544.9m), while statutory operating profit was put £363.2m (2017: £344.7m).
Other key highlights of the FY results included:
- Increased adjusted diluted earnings per Share: +7.0% to 49.2p (2017: 46.0p); Statutory EPS of 19.7p (2017: 37.6p), with prior year including non-cash credit from US tax reforms
- Free Cash Flow: £503.2m and £600m+ including a full year of UBM (2017: £400.9m)
- Balance sheet in line with plan: Net debt/EBITDA at 2.9x (2017: 2.5x)
- EnhancedDividend: up 7.1% to 21.90p (2017: 20.45p)
Informa’s Group Chief Executive, Stephen Carter said: “In 2018, the Informa Group delivered a fifth consecutive year of improving growth, increasing adjusted profits, adjusted earnings per share, cashflow and dividends.” He added: “In 2019, our focus is on continuing performance and growth as we consolidate our market positions and further reduce complexity. This will enable us to make the most of our increased operating scale and industry specialisation, creating attractive opportunities for incremental growth and returns.”
The group’s Academic Publishing division delivered a +2.2% increase in underlying revenue and Business Intelligence generated underlying revenue growth of +2.6%.
In Knowledge & Networking, the group said an enhanced digital offering and focus on major event brands in Finance, TMT and Life Sciences verticals helped delivered an improved performance for 2018, with underlying revenue growth of +2.3%.
In terms of the UBM Portfolio, 12 months pro-forma performance of UBM was expected, with underlying revenue growth of +2.8% up from +1.4% in 2017, with Events growing by +4.1%, offsetting a -5.8% decline in other marketing services (including Life Sciences).
Informa reported its funding flexibility was now extended through a new £900m revolving credit facility, following on from a successful refinancing via an over-subscribed Euro/Sterling bond issue.
The group also reported its Accelerated Integration Plan (AIP) was ahead of schedule, with a focus on minimising disruption and maximising the opportunities for incremental growth and returns.
The integration of UBM businesses into Informa is now complete, the group said, with brands combined through a new divisional operating structure and more focused around customer markets.
From 2019, the business began operating as Informa Markets, Informa Connect and Informa Intelligence, while the Academic Publishing Division continues trading as Taylor & Francis. A fifth Division, Informa Tech, brings together all our specialist data, research, media, events and training brands serving the technology industry.
The group reports more than 100 Senior Leadership appointments made, with reporting lines and team structures finalised across the combined group. Following Patrick Martell’s appointment as Group COO, appointments of Lara Boro as CEO of Informa Intelligence and Gary Nugent as CEO of Informa Tech. Charlie McCurdy, Andrew Mullins and Annie Callanan continue in their leadership roles as the CEO of Informa Markets, Informa Connect and Taylor & Francis respectively.
Fiona Orford-Williams, analyst at Edison Investment Research said of the results: “Informa looks to be moving apace with its integration, with the UBM brand set to be progressively withdrawn through the year. Cost savings are on target to deliver the indicated £50m +, £60m for 2020 and £75m by 2021. There's good scope to work the key verticals harder, with cross-marketing and rolling out brands internationally. The business's attractive cash flow characteristics, with forward bookings and subscription revenues, mean that there is resource to invest without over-stretching the balance sheet. The dividend increase of 7.1% will also please investors.”