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Future sees “exceptionally strong” first half as coronavirus accelerates audience growth

The publisher said the larger audience had helped to offset a “significant slowdown” in newstrade as travel stores closed down and three large events were cancelled in March

Future PLC - Future sees “exceptionally strong” first half as coronavirus accelerates audience growth

Future PLC (LON:FUTR) has reported what it says is an “exceptionally strong” first half as the coronavirus pandemic accelerated audience growth towards the end of the period.

For the six months ended 31 March, the magazine publisher reported an adjusted operating profit of £39.9mln, 77% higher than the prior year, while revenues climbed 33% to £144.3mln.

READ: Future posts “strong” online audience numbers offsetting drop in digital advertising

The company said the acceleration in audience growth towards the end of the period had helped to offset a “significant slowdown” in newstrade as travel stores closed down and three large events were cancelled in March.

Future added that its online user base had grown 26% year-on-year to 253mln, adding that it had remained “highly cash generative” with adjusted free cash flow of £40mln compared to £27.5mln in 2019.

Looking ahead, the group said its second half had “continued to show strong momentum” and it had been able to minimise the impact of coronavirus on the business.

The ongoing strong growth in audience numbers had also offset any softness in advertising, and as a result, the firm remained “confident in achieving its expectations for the full year”.

"We are seeing a rapid acceleration in the migration to online with a significant growth in online users looking for both entertainment and advice in their areas of interest as well as a rapid shift towards online retail. Future's diversified business model, global footprint and strong financial discipline means that we have been able to withstand the immediate challenges of the pandemic”, said Future chief executive Zillah Byng-Thorne.

"Our performance in the first half of the current year has been extremely strong; the downturn due to [coronavirus] makes market conditions uncertain for the remainder of the year. However, due to our operating model, strategy and diversified revenue streams, the group is well placed to navigate the challenges ahead", the CEO added.

Shares in the firm rose 0.9% to 1,102p in early trading on Friday.

Quick facts: Future PLC

Price: 1178 GBX

LSE:FUTR
Market: LSE
Market Cap: £1.15 billion
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