February 12, 2015 / 11:27 AM / 3 years ago

Global exhibitions help Informa stand its ground

(Reuters) - British business media group Informa Plc (INF.L) said a 19 percent rise in revenue from global exhibitions offset weak performance of its business intelligence and training divisions, sending its shares up as much as 4.4 percent.

The exhibitions business benefited from Formobile, a biennial Brazilian fair for wood and furniture suppliers, and IPEX, a printing, media and publishing event in London.

Informa raised its total dividend by 2 percent to 19.3 pence and said it would increase annual dividend by a minimum of 2 percent through 2017.

The company, which publishes real-time news, research, market data and academic books, reported a small rise in revenue at 1.14 billion pounds ($1.7 billion).

Adjusted pretax profit marginally rose to 309.6 million pounds.

Adjusted diluted earnings per share inched up to 40.3 pence.

“The average European Media 2015E P/E is 18.2x. So for a stock on 12.4x, simply delivering on consensus expectations should be seen as a positive.... Informa looks to be doing slightly better than that,” Barclays Capital analysts wrote in a note. They lowered their target price on the stock to 540 pence from 545 pence.

Informa posted a statutory full-year pretax loss, hurt by a non-cash charge of 219 million pounds related to impairments in its business intelligence and exhibitions divisions.

“The lacklustre EPS growth could lead the management to consider divestitures (may be academic publishing) thus unlocking transactional value,” Kepler Cheuvreux analyst Andrea Beneventi wrote in a note.

Chief Executive Stephen Carter ruled out any such possibility. “We are very capable ... of being able to run all four businesses into growth,” he told Reuters.

    The academic publishing division is Informa’s largest business with a 36 percent contribution to revenue in 2014.

    Informa, which moved back to the UK from Switzerland in June, said in July that it expected to spend up to 90 million pounds over three years to meet its organic growth objectives, as part of a strategic review.

    The company said on Thursday that it expected to invest 30 million to 40 million pounds in 2015, adding this would impact earnings because of increased operating expenditure and the depreciation from higher capital spending.

    Informa’s oldest business, the Lloyd’s List, was started in 1734 and is among one of the world’s oldest continuously running journals.

    Shares in Informa were up 2.9 percent at 530 pence at 1105 GMT on the London Stock Exchange.

    Reporting by Noor Zainab Hussain in Bengaluru; Editing by Gopakumar Warrier and Don Sebastian

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