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Future profit seen at top end of forecast range, CFO to leave

By Michele Maatouk

Date: Monday 04 Oct 2021

Future profit seen at top end of forecast range, CFO to leave

(Sharecast News) - Media group Future said on Monday that full-year operating profit is set to be at the top end of expectations thanks to continued momentum in digital advertising, as it announced the departure of its chief financial officer.
The company confirmed it is on course to report "another year of strong growth", driven by continued momentum in digital advertising with sustained yield growth more than offsetting the impact of strong comparators on audience growth.

As a result, full-year adjusted operating profit will be at the top end of the consensus range of between £183.5m and £193.6m, following July's upgraded forecast for the year. This compares to FY20 adjusted operating profit of £93.4m.

The group announced that Rachel Addison will stand down as CFO with effect from 31 October. Addison was appointed to the role in June 2020, having joined as part of the acquisition of TI Media. She will be succeeded by Penny Ladkin-Brand, the company's current chief strategy officer.

Future also said that its acquisition of consumer media subscriptions business Dennis has completed.

Chief executive officer Zillah Byng-Thorne said: "I am pleased to report that the continued successful execution of our strategy puts us on track to report another year of strong revenue and profit growth. I am confident that the acquisition of Dennis will help to accelerate our progress, and am delighted to welcome the team to Future."

At 0930 BST, the shares were down 3.9% at 3,612.73p.

Russ Mould, investment director at AJ Bell, said: "When you set the bar high it can be hard to clear. That's the lesson Future learned after an ostensibly positive update got a modest shrug-off from the markets.

"It seems guiding for results at the top but within the parameters of current guidance wasn't enough for some investors.

"A reference to a hard act to follow on audience growth, even if the context of this being superseded by digital advertising growth, may also have led to a bit of nervousness.

"The departure of Future's finance chief Rachel Addison after a little more than a year may have raised some eyebrows.

"Addison became part of the team following the acquisition of TI Media, at which time numbers chief Penny Ladkin-Brand moved to chief strategy officer to accommodate.

"Perhaps the temptation to get the old team together was too much for Future CEO Zillah Byng-Thorne to resist as Ladkin-Brand gets set to resume her position as finance director.

"Future's growth trajectory, built on buying magazine titles on the cheap and then monetising the specialist content through a central e-commerce and online advertising platform, has been nothing short of remarkable.

"The company lauds the merits of its latest acquisition of Dennis Publishing in this latest statement, a transaction which added titles like The Week and Minecraft World, but there will be some concern that eventually it runs out of deals which can really move the dial."

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