UBM shares hit by flat operating profit margin

FTSE 250-listed business publisher and events organiser UBM disappointed investors on Friday by posting a decline in adjusted operating profit margins for the year ended December 31st.

FTSE 250-listed business publisher and events organiser UBM disappointed investors on Friday by posting a decline in adjusted operating profit margins for the year ended December 31st.

On the fact of it the results were positive, with revenues from continuing operations coming in two per cent higher at £797.8m.

However, the adjusted operating profit margin for the Events business declined 1.5 percentage points, while Online & Print Marketing Services fell 2.8 percentage points. More positively, PR Newswire rose 0.3 percentage points, while the total adjusted operating profit was flat.

The group reported organic revenue growth of 6.0% and announced that it had agreed the disposal of Data Services businesses.

UBM further reported Events organic revenue growth of 11.9% with operating profit up at £142.4m.

Emerging Markets revenues were up 18.1% to £204.7m with operating profit of £61.7m.

Adjusted operating profit from continuing operations was up 1.6% to £177m.

The fully diluted adjusted earnings per share for continuing operations was up 3.3% to 49.8p. Including the Data Services businesses, it was 59.1p.

UBM reported that £60.6m had been invested in acquiring eight events businesses and the remaining Canada Newswire stake.

It recommended a final dividend of 20.0p to bring the total dividend to 26.7p, up 1.5%.

David Levin, Chief Executive Officer of UBM, said: "2012 has been another good year for UBM both operationally and strategically. We grew overall revenues and profits, with robust underlying revenue growth in our key Events and PR Newswire businesses.

"Events now account for three quarters of the group's continuing operating profit. We have continued to focus on large tradeshows; in 2012, 100 annual events generated revenues of more than £1.0m - accounting for 85% of annual event revenues."

He also described the sale of the Delta businesses as "a significant strategic step" which simplifies the business, improves the quality of its earnings, enhances underlying growth rates and removes the challenge of transitioning the Delta businesses to the digital environment.

Looking ahead, the group gave a fairly cautious outlook, saying it expects underlying revenue growth in the range of 3-7% during 2013, and warned Marketing Services revenues will continue to reflect the secular transition away from print advertising revenue.

It also predicted that the adjusted operating margin will be in region of 21-23%, reflecting sustained profitability of its core businesses and said it anticipates that the group margin will be tempered by the absence of recurring corporate sundry income.

The share price fell 4.39% to 740p by 09:20 on Friday.

MF

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