Stephen A. Carter, Group Chief Executive, said: “At Informa, the combination of increased operational fitness, the delivery of the 2014-2017 Growth Acceleration Plan and the integration of Penton Information Services continues to serve us well.”
He added: “While the fourth quarter is always an important period for us, our increased scale and international breadth give us confidence we can deliver another year of growth in revenue, profit, cash flow and dividends in 2017.”
The trading update from Informa:
The Informa Group delivered underlying revenue growth of +3.2% in the ten-month period to the 31 October 2017. At a reported level, revenue growth was around +40% year-on-year.
B2B Events…leading Brands in growing B2B verticals
Our combined B2B Events businesses, comprising the Global Exhibitions and Knowledge & Networking Divisions, recorded underlying revenue growth of +5.2% through the first 10 months of the year.
Global Exhibitions…international B2B platforms for trade and commerce
The benefits of international expansion and scale, combined with our focus on major B2B Brands within attractive growth verticals continue to deliver a consistently strong performance across our Exhibitions business, with underlying revenue growth of +9.2% for the 10-month period.
We run fewer of our Top 30 Exhibitions during the second half of the year but those held so far have performed inline or ahead of expectations, including in Real Estate & Construction (Cityscape Global), International Yachting (Monaco Yacht Show, Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show), Agriculture (Farm Progress), Health & Nutrition (Natural Products East, SupplySide West) and Pop Culture (Fan Expo).
The outlook remains encouraging with more than 95% of 2017 revenue now received or contracted, and a continued positive trend in forward bookings for 2018. This gives us confidence we can continue to deliver underlying growth and margins ahead of the wider Exhibitions market next year and beyond.
Knowledge & Networking…international B2B communities for learning and engagement
Our strategy to streamline and focus the portfolio on our high quality, Brand-led confexes in the three- end markets of Global Finance (SuperReturn, Finnovate), Life Sciences (BioEurope, Boston Biotech) and TMT (Internet of Things World, AfricaCom), is delivering progressive improvement. After four years of proactive portfolio management, the period since the half year saw a return to positive growth for the first time since the launch of the Growth Acceleration Plan (“GAP”). This helped to improve the ten- month position, reducing the underlying revenue decline to -2.5% year-to-date.
Our programme of portfolio management continues with the sale of Euroforum, our domestic conference business in Germany and Switzerland, which completed on 1 November. After some exploratory discussions, we decided to retain our business in Australia and Singapore, which is modest in size but owns and operates some valuable Brands and delivers steady cash flow.
November and December are always important months for the Division, with a number of our largest Branded events taking place. The improved mix and focus of the business provides greater visibility, with forward pacing of delegate sales on track. However, this remains a transactional business so our focus continues to be on full year delivery to ensure we enter 2018 on a positive growth trajectory.
Business Intelligence…specialist B2B insight and intelligence
The benefits of GAP investment into core products and platforms, combined with continued focus on strengthening our customer relationships is producing a steady improvement in operating and financial performance, with underlying revenue growth of +1.7% over the first 10-months of the year.
The last few months of the year are a key period for subscription renewals. We are entering it with a positive trend in Annualised Contract Values and a healthy sales pipeline, particularly in Agribusiness, Transportation and Finance following a number of recent product upgrades and new launches.
We also continue to focus on our contingent businesses, with our re-launched Consulting offering gaining good customer traction. Similarly, in Marketing Services we recently re-launched the business as Informa Engage to coincide with the busy fourth quarter trading period, when customers traditionally look to allocate budgets on marketing and research initiatives.
Together, this gives us confidence we will deliver further steady improvement in growth in 2017, leaving us well placed to meet our target of 3%+ underlying revenue growth in 2018.
Academic Publishing…scholarly research and specialist reference-led content
The trends in Academic Publishing remain broadly consistent, with continued strength in Academic Research Journals and steady trading in Upper Level reference-led Books balanced by ongoing volatility in the Lower Level textbook market. In aggregate, this produced modest +0.9% underlying revenue growth across the ten-month period, similar to the first half of the year.
In September, we announced the addition of independent open access (“OA”) publisher Dove Medical Press. This enhances our Journals business and strengthens our position in Health Sciences, adding a valuable portfolio of established and indexed OA journals and a platform for future expansion in this attractive and growing market.
The outlook remains robust and consistent. The Journal subscription season has started well, with renewals still strong. While the back end of the year is a key period for Books trading, we are confident of a solid outcome, and a second consecutive year of modest positive growth for the overall business.