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Future publishes half year results

Future plc, a global platform for specialist media, this week published its results for the half-year ended 31 March 2024.

Future publishes half year results
Jon Steinberg: "I'm pleased to report that in the early stages of this two-year plan we have made good progress, which will enable us to drive accelerating revenue growth.”

As reported by Future plc:

Financial highlights

  • Revenue of £391.5m (HY 2023: £404.7m), down (3)% year-on-year, impacted by a modest (2)% organic decline combined with adverse foreign exchange (mainly USD) and offset by the impact of acquisitions and disposals.
    • The Group returned to year-on-year revenue growth in Q2 with organic revenue growth of +3%.
    • UK revenue grew by +3% on an organic basis with very strong growth in price comparison (Go.Compare), up +30%, and good growth in B2B. As anticipated, other media performance (digital advertising, affiliate products, events), was impacted by market conditions, down (9)%.
    • US revenue declined by (11)% on an organic basis, with an improving trend through Q2. Digital advertising returned to organic year-on-year growth in Q2, notably across direct to client sales, whilst affiliate products continued to be impacted by weak consumer sentiment.
  • Profitability was mainly impacted by an adverse revenue mix and investment from the previously announced Growth Acceleration Strategy, resulting in an adjusted operating profit decline of (19)% to £105.8m (HY 2023 £130.3m). Statutory operating profit was down (24)% to £63.7m (HY 2023: £83.9m).
  • The Group remains highly cash generative with adjusted free cash flow of £126.0m (HY 2023: £130.0m), representing 119% of adjusted operating profit (HY 2023: 100%). Cash generated from operations was £130.4m (HY 2023: £117.3m).
  • Leverage was unchanged at 1.25x (FY 2023: 1.25x) with net debt at the end of the half year of £296.7m (FY 2023: £327.2m). Total available debt facilities at the end of March 2024 were £650m (FY 2023: £900m).
  • £35.9m was returned to shareholders during the period with £32.0m through the completed £45m share buyback programme launched in August 2023 (HY 2023: £nil) and dividends of £3.9m (HY 2023: £4.1m). The Group plans a further return of up to £45m to shareholders through a share buyback programme commencing shortly. Once the Share Buyback Programme commences, the Board will keep it under review and continue to assess it against its capital allocation priorities.

Growth Acceleration Strategy (GAS)

  • In December 2023, we launched the Growth Acceleration Strategy ("GAS") to ensure Future is well-positioned to capitalise on future opportunities in its attractive and growing markets. This is a two-year investment programme of £25m-£30m to drive acceleration in a compounding model by:
    • Growing a highly engaged and valuable audience - increased focus on brand leadership and content:
      • Online users stabilisation from H2 2023 with growth in Technology and Gaming verticals with total online users of 222m in HY 2024, exiting the half year with 232m online users (HY 2023: 247m, H2 2023: 234m).
      • We now have four top 3 leadership positions in key strategic verticals in the US and/or UK (HY 2023: three), which we believe will enable higher yields through improved revenue per user and greater resilience.
    • Diversifying and increasing revenue per user - adding new routes of monetisation and driving market-leading positions to improve yield:
      • First steps in expanding digital product range in email, social video including social commerce, and digital subscriptions.
      • Go.Compare year-on-year revenue growth of +30% driven by strong car insurance performance.
      • B2B returned to year-on-year growth with organic revenue growth of +7%.
    • Optimising our portfolio
      • This is a continuous process and is supported by the brand segmentation between Hero, Halo and Cash Generators and the recently announced reorganisation of the Group into three distinct business units - B2C, Go.Compare and B2B.
      • The Board's view is that the businesses making up the Group are significantly undervalued. The Board will continue to keenly appraise performance and will actively look at further options to accelerate value creation across the Group's business units.

CFO appointment

As announced on 3 May 2024, Sharjeel Suleman will join the Group as CFO no later than October 2024, replacing Penny Ladkin-Brand who will be leaving the Group and stepping down from the Board on 28 July 2024.


  • The stabilisation of trends and return to Group organic revenue growth in Q2 give us confidence in delivering full year performance in line with expectations.
  • We expect to deliver Group organic revenue growth in H2 2024 and a full year adjusted operating margin of approximately 28%.
  • Longer-term, we are confident that the focused execution of our GAS investment programme will drive accelerating organic revenue growth of mid-single digit compound annual growth ("CAGR") over the next three years with an adjusted margin of 28-30%.

Jon Steinberg, Future's chief executive, said: "In December we set out plans to ensure that Future is best positioned to capitalise on opportunities in our markets. These plans are centred on growing a highly engaged audience, diversifying and increasing Revenue Per User and optimising our portfolio. I'm pleased to report that in the early stages of this two-year plan we have made good progress, which will enable us to drive accelerating revenue growth.

"Overall trading in the first-half was in line with our expectations. Whilst the market environment remains challenging, we are encouraged by a return to organic revenue growth in Q2, progress which has continued into Q3. Our focus for the balance of the year is on continued implementation of the Growth Acceleration Strategy, with a particular focus on optimising the portfolio and accelerating value creation for shareholders."

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