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Ascential dashes for digital growth, following exhibition sales

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Global specialist information company Ascential plc, which has been selling its exhibition businesses, has announced results for the year ending 31 December 2018 it claim are “in line with expectations”.

The company’s audited results claim Ascential’s new business model is designed to enable customers to navigate the digital economy and highlight a clear strategic focus on the consumer value chain and high quality recurring revenue streams.

The sale of exhibitions, the report said, means allocation of capital towards high-growth acquisitions.

The year had seen a successful re-set of Cannes Lions event and MediaLink realigned to long term brand relationships.

Strong performances were flagged from Money20/20, Edge and Flywheel Digital.

There had also been investment in brands to support long-term sustainable growth and launches of Money20/20 Asia and China to establish “a leading global fintech platform”.

Financial highlights included strong revenue growth on continuing operations to £348.5m (US$456m) (2017: £292.9m and reported growth of 19.0%.

There was growth of 6.3% on an organic basis and 9.6% on a Proforma basis.

Solid adjusted EBITDA growth was put at £101.8m (2017: £94.7m). Reported operating profit from continuing operations was £40.2m (2017: £31.3m) up 28.4%.

There was a recommended final dividend of 3.9p, making a total dividend of 5.8p for the year (2017: 5.6p) up 3.6%.

Duncan Painter, Chief Executive Officer, commented: “2018 was an important year for Ascential. We delivered another year of strong growth, reflecting the value that customers place on our critical information. We are now at an advanced stage of our multi-year strategy to support global brands as they navigate fast-paced change in the digital commerce economy. Our evolution in 2018 was supported by three high-growth acquisitions, partially reallocating the proceeds of the exhibitions business.

“Our focus has now shifted to integrating and investing in our unique information services to continue to give our global customer base access to the critical information they need. We have taken action to return our Marketing segment to growth in 2019, following the successful re-set of Cannes Lions in 2018, and the realignment of MediaLink to focus on large brand reviews and projects. We remain well placed to enhance our market leadership in 2019 and to pursue our medium-term target of double-digit growth.”

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