Informa has released a trading update for the ten months period ending 31 October 2017. The international B2B exhibitions organiser said the financial report confirmed expectations for the full year.
The group delivered underlying revenue growth of 3.2 per cent in this period. At a reported level, revenue growth was around 40 per cent year-on-year.
Stephen A. Carter, group chief executive, commented: “At Informa, the combination of increased operational fitness, the delivery of the 2014-2017 Growth Acceleration Plan and the integration of Penton Information Services continues to serve us well.”
Carter added: “While the fourth quarter is always an important period for us, our increased scale and international breadth give us confidence we can deliver another year of growth in revenue, profit, cash flow and dividends in 2017.”
Informa’s combined B2B Events business, comprising the Global Exhibitions and Knowledge & Networking Divisions, recorded underlying revenue growth of 5.2 per cent through the first 10 months of the year.
For its Global Exhibitions business, the company has seen the benefits of international expansion and scale. This, combined with a focus on major B2B brands within “attractive” growth verticals, has delivered consistently strong performance with underlying revenue growth of 9.2 per cent for the 10-month period.
“We run fewer of our top 30 exhibitions during the second half of the year but those held so far have performed inline or ahead of expectations,” Informa said in a statement.
Events held in this period included Cityscape Global, Monaco Yacht Show, Fort Lauderdale International Boat Show, Farm Progress, Natural Products East, SupplySide West, and Fan Expo.
Informa said the outlook “remains encouraging” with more than 95 per cent of 2017 revenue now received or contracted and a continued positive trend in forward bookings for 2018.
“This gives us confidence we can continue to deliver underlying growth and margins ahead of the wider exhibitions market next year and beyond,” read the statement.
Informa said its strategy to streamline and focus the portfolio on high quality, brand-led conferences in the three-end markets of Global Finance (SuperReturn, Finnovate), Life Sciences (BioEurope, Boston Biotech) and TMT (Internet of Things World, AfricaCom), is delivering progressive improvement.
In the statement, the company explained: “After four years of proactive portfolio management, the period since the half year saw a return to positive growth for the first time since the launch of the Growth Acceleration Plan (GAP). This helped to improve the ten- month position, reducing the underlying revenue decline to 2.5 per cent year-to-date.”
The programme of portfolio management continues with the sale of Euroforum, its domestic conference business in Germany and Switzerland, which completed on 1 November.
Informa, after some exploratory discussions, decided to retain its business in Australia and Singapore. The company said the portfolio is “modest in size” but owns and operates some valuable brands and delivers steady cash flow.
November and December are important months for the division because a number of Informa’s largest branded events are taking place in these months.
“The improved mix and focus of the business provides greater visibility, with forward pacing of delegate sales on track,” Informa said, noting that it remains a transactional business. “Our focus continues to be on full-year delivery to ensure the company enters 2018 on a positive growth trajectory.”
Informa said the benefits of the GAP investment into core products and platforms, combined with continued focus on strengthening customer relationships, has helped improvements in operating and financial performance, with underlying revenue growth of 1.7 per cent over the first 10 months of the year.
The last few months of the year are a key period for subscription renewals. Informa said it is entering with a positive trend in annualised contract values and a healthy sales pipeline, particularly in agribusiness, transportation and finance following a number of recent product upgrades and new launches.
The company continues to focus on its contingent businesses, with the re-launched consulting offering “gaining good customer traction”.
Similarly, in marketing services Informa recently re-launched the business as Informa Engage to coincide with the busy fourth quarter trading period, when customers traditionally look to allocate budgets on marketing and research initiatives.
“Together, this gives us confidence we will deliver further steady improvement in growth in 2017, leaving us well placed to meet our target of 3%+ underlying revenue growth in 2018,” Informa concluded.