Earnings: Emap Profit Slides, Six More Integrated Portals Planned

Emap’s (LSE: EMA) figures for the six months to September 30 have given bidders a few bargaining chips – circulation, ads, revenue and profit are all down. The publisher said it will follow the launch of its new-style Today’s Golfer and MCN portals, as well as Ask A Mum (allied with Mother & Baby and Pregnancy & Birth magazines) and Go Fishing (for its six fishing mags), with sites in six more specialist sectors “in the near future”. The publisher invested £15 million in primarily digital new product development in the six months to September 30 and expects to have spent £25 million by year’s end.

Consumer: The division with Aloud.com, Yospace, Q and others saw revenue slide six percent to £173 million but operating profit is up three percent (seven percent underlying) to £35 million. The revenue fall is thanks to monthly magazine revenue slipping 14 percent, driven by a drop-off in sales of lads’ mags which saw consumer circulation revenue fall four percent. Ad revenue is down a whole 10 percent thanks to a “weak first quarter” and the forecast is for the trend to continue throughout the 2008 fiscal year. New product development spend in the division fell from last year’s £12 million to £9 million.

B2B: Revenue at the trade unit, which includes Broadcast and Screen International and has attracted most interest, was flat at £134 million, with operating profit down seven percent to £39 million, attributed to spending £5 million on new product development. B2B mags revenue is down two percent “due to general weakness in on-page display advertising across the portfolio”. The company earlier invited bidders for the B2B division to go for the whole company. UBM, however, has ruled itself out (via Times).

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Overall, pretax profit fell 16 percent to £80 million, on revenues down 26 percent to £408 million. The ongoing restructure cost £7 million in the half, part of a total £30 million, but the sell-off process is “on track with good interest from both private equity and trade buyers for all parts of the group”. Disposals including Agor, the French B2B division, Emap Australia and half of the TV business to Channel 4 netted £129 million, while £77 million was spent acquiring GroundSure, Infrastructure Journal, Plane Retail and 40.1 percent of India’s Next Gen Publishing.