UK events groups see delegates, sponsors return
LONDON (Reuters) - Companies are beginning to spend again on sending delegates to trade shows and conferences, and corporate sponsorship is also returning, according to reports from Informa and Daily Mail & General Trust.
The two British media groups reported stronger-than-expected results on Tuesday, boosted by improving trends in their events businesses, which include shows such as Arab Health, Palm China and the Global Petroleum Show.
"In most countries where we operate, we have seen some confidence return," Peter Rigby, chief executive of publishing and events group Informa, told Reuters by telephone.
He added that rebookings for 2011 were up about 9 percent, after a 1.5 percent decline in organic events revenues in the first half of 2010 as the company axed marginal events.
Euromoney, a financial-publishing subsidiary of Daily Mail & General Trust (DMGT), said last week its larger events had seen a rapid recovery.
Informa's results were supported by a strong performance at its academic-information division, which outweighed a decline in subscriptions to its financial publications -- and the company hiked its dividend by 25 percent to 4.5 pence.
Rigby told Reuters the company's guidance for flat full-year margins was "probably" too conservative, but cautioned: "It's quite a brave person who calls an overall economic recovery."
Informa's total revenues were down 0.5 percent organically to 624 million pounds ($964 million) in the first half of the year, after it culled about 500 marginal and less profitable products and events from its 8,500 strong portfolio.
Adjusted operating profit rose 5.6 percent to 153 million pounds, helped by the effects of past cost cuts, and both sales and profits beat market expectations.
Daily Mail reported an underlying 3 percent decline in its revenues from events, an improvement on the double-digit declines of previous quarters, and said some events had returned to growth.
"The confirmation of turning trends should reassure," UBS analysts wrote in a note. DMGT also reported a 13 percent rebound in national newspaper advertising, led by its flagship Daily Mail title, Britain's top mid-market tabloid -- although Chief Executive Martin Morgan voiced caution about the outlook.
"Trading in the third quarter has continued to reflect the generally positive trends in our international B2B and UK consumer media businesses, although we remain wary about the medium term outlook, particularly in the UK," he said.
Advertising at Daily Mail's dozens of regional British titles -- where it has made severe cuts during the recession in the face of a slump in classified ad spending -- fell 4 percent. Retail and recruitment ads were down but property ad sales rose.
Total DMGT revenues in the quarter to end-June rose 6 percent on an underlying basis to 508 million pounds.
(Editing by Mike Nesbit)
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