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Weaker US revenues hit Future, shares slide

By Abigail Townsend

Date: Thursday 07 Dec 2023

Weaker US revenues hit Future, shares slide

(Sharecast News) - Shares in Future slumped in early morning trading on Thursday, after full-year revenues were hit by weaker trading in the US.
The media and publishing group - which owns a number of magazines, including Country Life, Homes & Gardens and Cyclingnews, as well as comparison website Go.Compare - said revenues in the year to 30 September were £788.9m, down 4% or by 10% on an organic basis.

Adjusted operating profits slid 6% to £256.4m, while pre-tax profits fell 19% to £138.1m.

UK revenues eased 4% on an organic basis, but US revenues were down 19%.

Future noted there had been "softness" in media revenue in the US, which it attributed to a "greater concentration in the consumer technology verticals, as well as being less advanced on the execution of the strategy in comparison to the UK business".

It added that profitability had remained "resilient", however, with the adjusted operating profit margin down just 1 percentage point year-on-year.

It also stressed it expected to return to organic revenue growth in the second half of the current year.

But that was not enough to halt the sell off, and by 1000 GMT the stock was off 15% at 638.28p, having earlier fallen by as much as 20%.

Jon Steinberg, who joined as chief executive in April, said: "We have delivered a resilient performance amid a challenging market.

"Our growth acceleration strategy leverages Future's inherent strengths, strong financial characteristics and unique proposition, making active investments in targeted areas where we have clear growth opportunities.

"We are confident our strategy will continue to deliver significant value for shareholders, with our investment in our leading brands and capabilities underpinning our growth ambitions."

Future also announced on Thursday that Penny Ladkin-Brand, chief financial and strategy officer, was stepping down after eight years with the company.

Ladkin-Brand, who is on a 12-month notice period, said: "Future is a wonderful business, full of amazing and inspiring people.

"As Future embarks on this next chapter of its journey, I have decided that it is now time for a change."

The publisher said it had started an external search for her successor.

Shore Capital, which has a 'buy' rating on the stock, said: "We continue to view the company as well-placed to deliver attractive medium-long term adjusted earnings per share and dividends per share growth and strong cash generation.

"This positive view is rooted in a range of fundamentals which we also regard as potentially compelling to an acquirer."

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