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Media group Future lifts expectations after record-breaking first-half

Last year’s string of acquisitions have bedded in well so far, and they have made a huge difference to the company’s results
fourtfourtwo magazine
The media division now accounts for 70% of group revenue

Future PLC (LON:FUTR) shares surged on Friday after the media group enjoyed a record-breaking start to the year and said the momentum had continued into the second half.

Bosses said they now expect full-year results to be ahead of previous forecasts, even while the “backdrop of an uncertain economic outlook remains”.

Shares in Future, which is behind sites such as TechRadar and publishes the popular FourFourTwo magazine, jumped 8% in early deals to 910.4p.

READ: Future surges on back of Mobile Nations acquisition

Revenue doubled to £108.7mln in the six months ended 31 March (H1 18 £53.6mln), while underlying earnings (EBITDA) almost trebled to £23.7mln (H1 18: £8.8mln).

Audience numbers – a key metric for any media business – were also sharply higher, up 188% year-on-year.

Much of that growth was down to a spate of acquisitions over the past year, including that of Purch – the technology platform and publishing group that it bought for £101mln last September.

Magazines have become an ever-decreasing part of the group, with that division now making up less than a third of revenues, with the media arm, home to Future’s portfolio of websites, making up the rest.

Record-breaking half

“We have delivered a record breaking first half of the financial year and the continued execution of our strategy to deliver growth through audience engagement and technology innovation is generating clear value across the business,” said chief executive Zillah Byng-Thorne.

“We have seen the strong momentum continue as we enter the second half of this financial year, with acquisitions performing well and continued positive organic growth in the media division.”

City broker lifts price target

“Future’s shares have seen strong momentum since that start of the year, up 76% year-to-date but this is not without merit,” said Peel Hunt in a note to clients.

“They have delivered a strong trading update followed by a highly accretive acquisition.

“Again, the H1 results have not disappointed."

The broker moved its price target price of 1,110p from 855p and maintained its ‘buy’ recommendation.

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