According to Informa, the key financial and operating highlights are:
- Strong Revenue Growth: +3.7% underlying and +34.9% reported to £2,369.5m, including six months of UBM (2017: £1,756.8m)
- Higher Adjusted Operating Profit: +2.3% underlying and +34.4% reported to £732.1m (2017: £544.9m)
- Improved Statutory Operating Profit: £363.2m (2017: £344.7m)
- 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
- Attractive Free Cash Flow: £503.2m and £600m+ including a full year of UBM (2017: £400.9m)
- Robust Balance Sheet, in line with plan: Net debt/EBITDA at 2.9x (2017: 2.5x)
- Enhanced Dividend: up 7.1% to 21.90p (2017: 20.45p)
Stephen A. Carter, Group Chief Executive, 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 report details continued progress across all Operating Divisions in 2018:
- Global Exhibitions: International and regional scale, depth in attractive market verticals and leading B2B Brands deliver strong underlying revenue growth of +6.7%;
- Academic Publishing: Consistent performance in Journal subscriptions, good growth in Open Access and improved growth in specialist Books following operational improvement programme deliver a +2.2% increase in underlying revenue;
- Business Intelligence: Robust subscription renewals, improving new business momentum and consistent performance in consulting and specialist marketing solutions generates underlying revenue growth of +2.6%;
- Knowledge & Networking: Enhanced digital offering and focus on major event brands in Finance, TMT and Life Sciences verticals delivers improved performance, with underlying revenue growth of +2.3%;
- UBM Portfolio: Twelve months pro-forma performance of UBM as 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);
- Consistent profit growth: Underlying profit growth of +2.3%, reflecting growth mix and increased depreciation from completed GAP investment and major GLOBE enterprise technology upgrade;
- Flexible Funding: Funding flexibility extended through new £900m revolving credit facility, following on from a successful refinancing via over-subscribed Euro/Sterling bond issue;
- Progressive Dividends: Strong free cash flow underpins commitment to attractive and consistent dividends, growing in line with earnings, at +7.1% to 21.90p per share.
Accelerated Integration Plan (“AIP”) ahead of schedule: Programme to create an effective and efficient operating model for the expanded Informa Group progressing well, with the focus on minimising disruption and maximising the opportunities for incremental growth and returns:
- AIP 1. Operating Model: Integration of UBM businesses into Informa now complete, with brands combined through a new divisional operating structure, more focused around customer markets. From 2019, we are operating as Informa Markets, Informa Connect and Informa Intelligence, while our Academic Publishing Division continues trading as Taylor & Francis. In addition, we have created a fifth Division, Informa Tech, bringing together all our specialist data, research, media, events and training brands serving the Technology industry, moving us closer to customer markets and communities, and creating more opportunities to add value.
- AIP 2. Leadership & Talent: Strengthened talent, combining the best of both from Informa and UBM; 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 successful leadership roles as the CEO of Informa Markets, Informa Connect and Taylor & Francis respectively;
- AIP 3. Progressive Portfolio Management (“PPM”): Focus on building depth and breadth in key industry verticals and on high quality, predictable sources of revenue lead to successful disposal of the Life Sciences Media Brands Portfolio in January 2019 for over $100m. Further targeted PPM disposals progressing, with 5%+ of Group revenue remaining potentially in scope overall;
- AIP 4. Operating Synergies: Programme to reduce areas of duplication and simplify operations and systems on budget and on schedule. End of the Completion phase of the AIP gives us visibility and confidence that we will deliver at least £50m of annualised cost savings in 2019 and meet our run-rate targets of £60m by end 2020 and £75m by end 2021; Potential incremental opportunities in enterprise resource technology and shared services currently being assessed, with implementation from 2020. Revenue initiatives also well underway, with initial focus on cross-marketing and international sales, with early benefits expected from the second half of 2019. Longer term opportunities in geo-extensions, sponsorship and digital services.
- AIP 5. Fashion GAP: Three-year operational fitness programme on track, led by new Managing Director, Mark Temple-Smith. Experienced team focused on revitalising brands and marketing, enhancing the customer database, strengthening industry relationships and improving the experience. Historical scheduling commitments and annual show cycles influence the pace of change but encouraging customer response to initial changes and future plans at recent Magic and New York shows.
- AIP 6. Brands, Identity, Structure & Values: Increased verticalisation across the Group reflected in updated Brand architecture, simplifying our customer proposition and providing greater flexibility in specialist B2B markets. Divisional brands adapted to lean into the strength of the Informa brand (click link for more) and bringing the Group closer together. Supported by ongoing work on distinguishing our existing core purpose and values across the expanded Group