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ITE begins to exhibit benefits of acquisitions

Several trading headwinds were cited, including macro-economic challenges in Turkey having a knock-on effect in nearby markets including Russia, tensions between Ukraine and Russia, and Brexit
ITE said the outlook was strong amid a continued focus on forward bookings

ITE Group PLC (LON:ITE) reported good growth in the first half of the year as it bedded in the acquisitions of Ascential Events and Mining Indaba.

The trade exhibition and conferences organiser posted results for the six months to 31 March showing revenue up 6% on a like-for-like basis and 43% on a total basis to £107.8mln, despite an enforced decline at this year’s Acetech Delhi trade fair due to venue constraints.

READ: ITE to buy Mining Indaba from Euromoney for £30.1mln, sees higher annual revenue

Revenue growth has been achieved despite facing "a number of trading headwinds", including macro-economic challenges in Turkey having a knock-on effect in nearby markets including Russia, tensions between Ukraine and Russia, and Brexit.

Headline profit before tax of £24.5mln was up 50% on a reported basis and 7% on a LFL basis if excluding the £14mln added from events that were not owned in the comparative period. 

Earnings per share of 2.3p and the interim dividend of 0.9p were both flat year on year, as the increase in profits was offset by the increased number of shares in issue following the rights issue in July last year.

Net debt had increased to £108.9m at the end of March, compared to £51.2m a year ago and £82.7mln at the September year end as cash was drawn down in the second half of last year to fund the acquisitions.

Chief executive Mark Shashoua said the as the quality of events improved, so did operating profit margin, up from 23% to 25%.

Solid outlook seen ahead

“The outlook for the remainder of the year is strong, owing to our continued focus on forward bookings. Contracted revenues already stand at 94% of full year consensus and are 6% ahead of this time last year on a like-for-like basis.”

Contracted £58m of revenues are already in place for next year, representing a like-for-like increase of 11%. House broker Numis forecasts LFL net sales up 5% for the full year with adjusted PBT of £50m and EPS of 4.9p. 

Broker Peel Hunt said net debt was well below guidance. Analysts noted that the UK remains the weakest significant territory, with Spring Fair and Moda falling, but this was in contrast to good growth in Russia, Turkey and within Global Brands. 

“Whilst political and currency risk persist, with more than £200m of revenue contracted for the current year already, FY19 forecasts look secure and are unchanged this morning.”

ITE shares were up 2.3% to 74.7p on Tuesday morning.

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