March 14, 2014 / 2:20 PM / 5 years ago

British publisher Future's shares slump on profit warning

(Reuters) - British publisher Future Plc warned on Friday that its profit this year would be “significantly below” market expectations, sending its shares tumbling as much as 35 percent.

Future, whose titles include Total Film, Gizmodo UK and T3, said poor trading conditions towards the end of the first quarter continued into the first two months of 2014.

The company, whose revenue has fallen for nine years in a row, did not give details about the downturn in trading.

Future, which sold 19 million magazines last year, said on Friday it expects earnings before interest, tax, depreciation, amortisation and exceptional items (EBITDAE) for the year ending September 30 to fall below last year’s normalised figure.

The company, which also publishes digital magazines, reported normalised EBITDAE of 6.4 million pounds ($10.7 million) for the year ended September 30, 2013.

The normalised results excluded operations that Future had discontinued in the last two years, and included businesses launched in that period.

Future will provide an update on cost cutting on May 23 along with its results for the first half ending March 31, the company said in an email to Reuters on Friday.

The company said in a statement it would continue cost-cutting steps initiated last month, but did not elaborate the steps.

Peel Hunt analyst Malcolm Morgan said Future should not undertake a turnaround in the public markets and said the company should delist.

Future shares have lost about a third of their value in the year up to Thursday’s close.

“I think an industrial or a private equity owner would allow the company to effect the transformation without being dependant on this quarter’s financial results,” Morgan told Reuters.

Future’s biggest investors include Schroder Investment Management, Aberforth Partners, Fidelity Worldwide Investment and Investec Asset Management.

Morgan said there was “little prospect” of Future earning a profit before tax for the current year. “The company will do well not to cede control of their affairs to the banks if EBITDA falls much further,” he wrote in a note.

The company said on Friday it would focus on its core areas — technology, sports and photography.

Numis Securities said it would cut its EBITDAE estimate for Future by at least 30 percent.

Future shares were down 34.5 percent at 9.25 pence at 1257 GMT on the London Stock Exchange. The stock had slid to 8.50 pence earlier in the day, making it one of the top percentage losers on the exchange.

Editing by Gopakumar Warrier and Joyjeet Das

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