UBM, Expecting Slower 2011 Online Growth, Swaps Some Atoms For Bits

A flurry of M&A announced in United Business Media’s 2010 earnings…

Selling its UK trade portfolio (basically, The Publican) to William Reed for up to £1.65 ($2.67) million.

Selling its French medical newspaper and magazine publishing business to management for €4.4 ($6.09/£3.75) million.

Buying a 60 percent JV stake in Indian dental publisher Famdent.

Buying India’s largest travel trade show operator, SATTEE.

For 2010, combined online and print revenue at UBM, led by CEO David Levin, dipped 2.9 percent, even though online rose 28.6 percent to £69.2 ($112.25) million. Online marketing was the company’s fastest grower, up by 28.6 percent thanks to “the technology community where the marketing budget environment is improving”.

But UBM is writing £35.8 ($58.08) million off the value of its transport-centric Commonwealth Business Media division, saying: “As with UBM Technology and UBM Medica, the charge was mainly attributable to the decline in print magazine and print directory revenue and operating profit. Both magazines and directories within the trade and transportation sector were impacted by the long term structural shift away from print media towards digital and face-to-face media. This decline was accelerated in 2009 as a result of the difficult economic environment, particularly in the US.”

“There is still a high degree of experimentation in the online subscription market and we are closely monitoring the trends and exploring new ways of generating revenues.

“Our outlook is for continued momentum in Online revenues, though we expect some moderation in underlying growth relative to 2010 as the effect of cyclical recovery moderates, especially in the IT and technology sectors.”

In its data services division, UBM says: “In aggregate, we expect that declines in traditional print data directory sales will be offset by growth in digital data products.”

Annual company revenue rose 4.9 percent to £889.2 ($1442.44) million, though adjusted operating profit was basically flat at £171.8 ($278.69) million after heightened investment in new products.