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Future raises expectations as it reports runaway growth from media acquisitions

The FTSE 250 group also said it will charge ahead with another acquisition of Barcroft Studios, having already announced plans to purchase Marie Claire owner TI Media in October

Future PLC - F
Future already owns 220 brands, including TechRadar, Guitar Player, and PC World

Future PLC's (LON:FUTR) shares were on the rise after the magazine group upped its full-year expectations and hailed an “outstanding” year of runaway acquisition-driven growth.

The FTSE 250 media group said its sales went up 70% to £221mln in the year ended 30 September, while 11% organic growth was mostly driven by an increased presence in the US, which now accounts for over half of its revenues.

READ: Future offers to buy Marie Claire UK’s owner TI Media for £140mln

Before-tax profits also got a 189% boost to £12.7mln, up from £4.4mln in the same period last year, with margins growing by ten percentage points to 24%.

The company said the profits hike was led by “continued strong revenue growth within the media business, which significantly offset the decline in magazine revenues”, which were down 10%.

"The current year has started very positively with continuing strong growth,” said Zillah Byng-Thorne, Future's chief executive, noting that as a result, she expects the full year to be “ahead of the board's previous expectations".

In the year ended 30 September, Future acquired two specialist cycling brands, tech website Mobile Nations, and business news site SmartBrief, as well as proposing to buy TI Media, the owner of various consumer magazines such as Marie Claire UK and Country Life, for £140mln.

The magazine company, which owns PC Gamer and TechRadar, said in its full-year results statement that it had agreed to buy Barcroft Studios, a small independent studio that creates original content for social media, for a total consideration of £23.5mln, with 40% of the consideration to be satisfied in shares.

The deal is expected to complete on 30 November, assuming it first gains approval from the Competition and Markets Authority (CMA).

Byng-Thorne said the acquisitions this year “significantly broadened and strengthened our B2C [business-to-consumer] and B2B portfolios and materially increased our US presence”, with the TI Media acquisition to bring further “complementary verticals” to the group.

Deutsche Bank initiated Future this week with a ‘buy’ rating, slapping a target price of 1,562p on the stock.

“Future has been significantly re-rated, following two years of extraordinary operational and share price performance, fuelled by value-enhancing M&A and strong underlying growth”, the investment bank's analysts said, adding that things are looking good for the group whose end markets are now "more dynamic", even while it retains some heritage titles.

Shares were up 3.9% at 1,510p in early trading on Friday.

Quick facts: Future PLC

Price: 1465.4 GBX

Market: LSE
Market Cap: £1.44 billion

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