Home TypeInternational Informa minds the GAP II with revenue and profits growth

Informa minds the GAP II with revenue and profits growth

by Paul Colston

Informa, the international B2B markets, knowledge services and business intelligence group, has published results for the 12 months to 31 December 2021 that show growth in revenues and profits and progress on the 2021-2024 Growth Acceleration Plan II (GAP II).

Informa group chief executive Stephen A. Carter, (pictured) said: “The robust return of Live and On-Demand Events, combined with consistent and improving growth at Taylor & Francis, and continued expansion in B2B Digital Services, gives us confidence of further growth and acceleration in 2022.” He added: “Through GAP II, we are creating a more focused, higher growth business, built around specialist brands, with a robust balance sheet and a commitment to shareholder returns, including dividends.”

Financial highlights of the 2021 annual results included:

  • Higher Revenues: Statutory revenue growth of 8.3% and underlying growth of 6.1%, delivering group revenues of £1,798.7m (2020 £1,660.8m), reflecting strength in Subscriptions, growth in Digital Services and the progressive return of Live and On-Demand B2B Events;
  • Growth in Adjusted Profit: Adjusted Operating Profit of £388.4m (2020: £266.6m), driven by higher revenues and effective cost-management;
  • Improving Statutory Performance: Reduction in Covid-related exceptional costs and lower intangible amortisation and impairments, delivers statutory operating profit of £93.8m compared with a loss of £881.6m in 2020;
  • Strong Free Cash Flow: Higher adjusted operating profit, strong cash conversion and improving forward bookings for B2B Events, delivers Free Cash Flow of £438.7m, more than £500m better than the £153.9m outflow reported in 2020;
  • Robust Balance Sheet: Free Cash Flow growth, combined with currency effects, drives reduction in Net Debt to £1,434.6m (2020: £2,029.6m), in advance of GAP II divestments. The group also reported long-term, covenant-free financing was providing resilience and flexibility.

The group guidance for 2022 was revenue of £2,150m-£2,250m and adjusted operating profit of £470m-£490m, updated to reflect the expected phased divestment of the Informa Intelligence portfolio.

Informa also predicted “robust return of Live and On-Demand B2B Events: Enduring demand for specialist Live and On-Demand events is driving strong levels of participation and improving momentum in forward bookings across our portfolio of specialist brands”.

Through its GAP II, Informa said it was creating a more focused, higher growth business with a robust balance sheet and increasing commitment to the two markets where it has leading brands and leadership positions of scale: Academic Markets and B2B Markets.

The group also said there would be an increasing portfolio focus: It confirmed the sale of Pharma Intelligence confirmed for £1.9bn, with completion expected in  June. Financial  Intelligence  divestment  process was underway, with an update to be provided at the half-year.

The group also promised an acceleration in Open Research, Smart Events and B2B Digital Services.

Informa commenced a share buyback programme in February, with 17m shares bought and cancelled to date. A second buyback tranche was launched 15 March, committing a further £200m and taking total returns to £300m within the Capital Returns Programme of up to £1bn. Ordinary dividends will be resumed with the 2022 interim dividend, the group said.

In terms of outlook, Informa reported that, to date, the majority of brands that have run in 2022 have been in North America and the Middle East, with major brands in Europe traditionally scheduled from the second quarter. “In Mainland China our events calendar starts after the holiday season and this year we planned for additional flexibility to allow processes and approvals to settle post the Beijing Winter Olympics. We expect to see major brands running from Q2, with activity building towards the traditionally busier second half of the year,” Informa reported, adding that major locations around the world were supporting the reopening of Live and On-Demand Events in 2022, with brands already having been successfully run in Las Vegas, New York, California, Miami, Monaco, Dubai and Riyadh.

In terms of exhibitor volumes, space commitments were progressively increasing, Informa reported. “Across our major brands in Q1, total space sold is expected to be over 5m sq ft, up over 150% on a like-for-like basis versus last year.”

The group added that , as brands return to traditional calendar dates, albeit with most managing to shortened, sub-12-month sales cycles, attendee volumes were progressively rising. “Across our major brands in Q1, total participation is expected to be over 400k, up 150% on a like-for-like basis versus last year,” the group said.

As for forward bookings, average bookings for Informa Market’s major events brands (£5m+ revenue) scheduled for H1 2022 are already at 76% of 2019 revenue, with 94%+ of related cash collected.

The group noted that improving customer confidence was supporting the targeted launch of new brands, including in Luxury & Lifestyle (Miami International Boat Show) and in Technology (LEAP), the latter a showcase event in Saudi Arabia that was one of Informa’s largest new launches ever.

Certain geographies and locations were further behind in the return from Covid-19 and unlikely to pick up materially until 2023, including Hong Kong, India and a number of countries in ASEAN and Latin America, Informa believed, noting that international and cross-continental participation at Live Events remains limited to date, albeit is more evident among its major brands. “Our market research indicates demand for international access remains strong and so, as corporate travel restrictions unwind and travel budgets reinflate, we expect cross border participation rates to build,” the group said.

Within Informa Markets, the group said its focus is on strengthening existing Audience Development products in Aviation & Aerospace, Agriculture and MedTech, while expanding the offering to additional customer markets, including Infrastructure, Construction & Real Estate and Health & Nutrition.

Informa Tech is building Audience Development and Digital Demand products, services and capabilities. In 2021, it acquired NetLine, (content syndication and lead generation) and a priority is to connect existing brands to NetLine’s established syndicated publisher network and audience flows.

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