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RELX profits rise in 2019, chairman departs

The FTSE 100-listed firm reported an adjusted pre-tax profit of 2.2bn, up 3% on the prior year, while revenues jumped 4% to £7.8bn

RELX PLC - RELX profits rise in 2019, chairman departs

RELX PLC (LON:REL) has reported higher full-year profits, sending its shares higher on Thursday, however, the results were accompanied by news of the departure of its long-serving chairman.

For the year ended 31 December, the FTSE 100-listed information and analytics provider to the medical and legal industries reported an adjusted pre-tax profit of 2.2bn, up 3% on the prior year, while revenues jumped 4% on an underlying basis to £7.8bn.

READ: RELX sees results in line with last year despite print book declines

The company attributed the rise to “good growth” in its electronic and face-to-face revenues, which made up 91% of the total, which had offset continued declines in print.

RELX also upped its full-year dividend by 9% to 45.7p per share, adding that it intended to undertake a £400mln share buyback in 2020 following a £600mln repurchase in 2019.

The firm also said it was “confident” of delivering another year of underlying growth in revenue and adjusted operating profit.

"Our number one strategic priority is unchanged: the organic development of increasingly sophisticated information-based analytics and decision tools that deliver enhanced value to our customers, supplemented by selective acquisitions of targeted data, analytics and exhibition assets that support our organic growth strategies", said RELX chief executive Erik Engstrom.

In a note, analysts at Liberum maintained their 'buy' rating and 1,750p target price on the firm, although they noted that the company had not mentioned any potential impact of the coronavirus on its exhibitions business, and forecast that the division was likely to see a "marginal impact" from the outbreak. 

Chairman to retire

In a separate announcement, RELX said its chairman, Sir Anthony Habgood has decided to retire from the board after ten years in the role.

Habgood will remain in the position until a successor is appointed, meaning his departure date is currently unknown.

“I will be retiring from the Board of RELX, having seen the organisation make great progress over the last decade. The group has a strong Board and management team, clarity concerning its strategic direction and is well-positioned for future growth. As a result, I believe that this is the year both from my own perspective and from that of the company in which to make a change of Chair”, Habgood said.

RELX shares were 1.5% higher at 2,069p in mid-morning trading.

--Adds broker comment and updates share price--

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