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Ascential reports first-half profits surge as it buys stake in Avast’s marketing analytics business

Ascential is paying almost £50mln for a 35% stake in Jumpshot – the marketing analytics arm of Avast

marketing data
Profits rose by a third in the first half of the year

Revenue and profits at Ascential PLC (LON:ASCL), the information group formerly known as EMAP, surged in the first half as its marketing division returned to growth after a “re-set year” in 2018.

Revenue for the six months ended 30 June jumped 25% to £236.2mln (H1 18: £188.9mln), while pre-tax profits rose by a third to £30.5mln (H1 18: £23.1mln).

READ: Ascential trading in line with full-year expectations

The marketing business was the main performance driver, with the division’s two largest products, Cannes lion and MediaLink, contributing double-digit revenue growth.

Looking ahead, the company "remains confident" in its full-year performance.

“In the first six months of the year Ascential has made considerable progress against our four key goals for 2019: focus on execution; integration of Edge; returning our Marketing segment to growth; and rolling out our One Ascential Operating Model across Ascential,” said chief executive Duncan Painter.

“This operational progress, together with the acceleration of WGSN, the excellent performance of Flywheel and good growth at Money20/20, give the board confidence in our overall 2019 performance and our medium-term target to achieve double-digit growth.”

Deal with Avast

In a separate statement, Ascential confirmed it has agreed to acquire an initial 35% stake in Avast PLC’s (LON:AVST) marketing analytics subsidiary, Jumpshot.

Ascential, which is paying £48.7mln (US$60.8mln) for the stake, has the option to take a majority ownership in Jumpshot further down the line.

Boss Duncan Painter said Jumpshot is a “good fit” for Ascential.

“Having exclusive access to Jumpshot products is expected to accelerate sales for Edge by Ascential and allow Ascential to build unique products for our customers to drive their success in digital commerce.”

“Though the need for analytics to support marketing has been previously discussed, the market may be surprised by the scale of his further investment today as company had previously signalled a reduction in planned M & A,” they said in a note to clients.

Ascential shares were up 2.1% to 387.2p in early deals on Monday.

Quick facts: Ascential

Price: 396 GBX

LSE:ASCL
Market: LSE
Market Cap: £1.6 billion
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