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Next Fifteen CEO sees “lots of scope” for acquisitions in new year as profits jump in 2018

Tim Dyson said the number of purchases would similar to the four “reasonably sized” purchases in the year just gone, which included predictive analytics firm Planning-Inc in January

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The company's services cover digital content, PR, consumer, technology, marketing software, market research, public affairs and policy communications

Next Fifteen Communications Group PLC’s (LON:NFC) chief executive Tim Dyson has said the digital marketing group has “lots of scope” for acquisitions in the coming year after the company reported a 23% jump in pre-tax profits for 2018.

Speaking to Proactive, Dyson said the number of purchases would be similar to the four “reasonably sized” acquisitions in the year just gone, which included predictive analytics firm Planning-Inc in January.

READ: Next Fifteen trading in line

The comments came as the group reported an adjusted pre-tax profit of £36mln for the year ended 31 January 2019, 23% higher than the year before, while net revenues were up 16% at £272.4mln.

The results were more or less in line with expectations from analysts at broker Peel Hunt, who had predicted revenues of £227mln.

Adjusted profit margins had also risen to 16.5% from 15.3% last year, while net debt was cut by over 50% to £5.2mln from £11.6mln.

As a result of the improved performance, Next Fifteen upped its final dividend to 5.4p per share from 4.5p, taking the total dividend 20% higher to 7.56p.

Looking ahead, the group said it was “confident of another significant increase in profitability”, with current trading in the new financial year in line with its expectations.

“We are making great progress as the results demonstrate. Next 15 has evolved from a pure PR group into a data and technology-driven marketing group”, said Next Fifteen’s chairman, Richard Eyre.

“We are excited about our future as we believe we have the right foundational platform of businesses, products, talent and customers to tackle the next stage in our evolution.”

In a note to clients, analysts at Peel Hunt upped their target price for the firm to 640p from 630p and retained their ‘buy’ rating, saying the results had been “broadly in line” with market expectations and that the company had been little affected by Brexit issues with “exceptional” organic net revenue growth of 6.4%.

In late-morning trading Tuesday, Next Fifteen shares were down 1.6% at 552p.

--Adds broker comment and share price--

Quick facts: Next Fifteen Communications Group PLC

Price: 491 GBX

LSE:NFC
Market: LSE
Market Cap: £424.97 m
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