Profits up but UBM closes titles as magazine revenue falls

Business publisher United Business Media increased profits in the first six months of the year despite a 14 per cent drop in revenue at its magazine division and the closure of four titles.

The company, which publishes the Farmer’s Guardian, Property Week and The Publican, said it had delivered a strong set of financial results and was on-track to meet its financial targets.

Overall revenue was £434.3m in the first six months of 2010 – the same as in the same period last year – while adjusted operating profit increased 6.3 per cent year-on-year to £83.2m.

Publishing its half-year results this morning, the company said its print magazines business provided 4.4 per cent of UBM’s overall operating profit as it saw revenue in the division drop 13.9 per cent year-on-year to £74.3m in the period.

Operating profit at its magazine division rose 12.1 per cent to £3.7m. UBM said the improved profitability came, in-part, from a cyclical improvement in ad revenues, but more significantly from its strategy to mitigate the long-term shift away from print by closing, merging and reducing the publication frequency of weaker titles.

The company said it had closed four titles in the first six months of the year and reduced the frequency of two other titles as part of this strategy.

UBM closed 31 titles and merged or reduced the frequency of others throughout 2009 in response to the economic downturn and the structural decline in print advertising.

David Levin, chief executive of UBM, said: ‘In the first half we launched one new print title and closed four others.

‘In line with our established strategy, we continue to take advantage of opportunities for print products in fast-growing economies and sectors, while also managing our print magazine portfolio towards a smaller, more profitable and commercially sustainable set of leading titles.

‘We anticipate that each of our titles will become a component of an integrated, cross-media product portfolio which serves a specific commercial or professional community.”

Falling revenues from UBM’s print business was offset by it events division which contributed almost half (48.9 per cent) of the company’s overall adjusted profit for the period.

The company said the events business remained robust during the period with revenue up 1.5 per cent year-on-year to £139.3m and adjusted operating profit rising 7.7 per cent to £40.7m.

UBM said it had spent £43.5m in the first-half of last year buying up 12 emerging markets and trade show businesses and that bookings for exhibition stand space at its top 20 events in the next 12 months was up 12 per cent year-on-year.

The company’s data, services and online businesses, which contributed 23.8 per cent of UBM’s adjusted operating profits in the first-half of the year, drew revenue of £129.5m, a year-on-year rise of 2.3 per cent, with operating profits for the division increasing 23.8 per cent to £19.8m.

UBM said online revenues increased 15.3 per cent year-on-year to £30.9m driven by strong online advertising growth.

The targeting, distribution and monitoring businesses brought UBM 28.1 per cent of its adjusted operating profits for the period, with revenue of £91.2m, an increase of 7.4 per cent year-on-year.

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