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City analysts optimistic for Informa’s route back to business

Pent-up demand suggests people want to come back to exhibitions and conferences as long as it is safe, according to the UK Daily Telegraph’s Questor column, 21 June, which tipped shares in organiser Informa.

Informa, Questor notes, has cancelled or rescheduled 160 events for 2021, switching a further 300 to digital get-togethers, while the company has reported relatively low demand for rebates.

An early test, says Questor, comes on 9 July, when China Beauty Expo opens its doors in Shanghai. This will be followed by the crucial September calendar, with the Magic fashion tradeshow in Las Vegas and security gathering Ifsec at London’s ExCeL among dates in the Informa diary.

Analysts at broker Shore Capital have been quoted forecasting a 70% revenue decline at Informa’s Markets division, which makes up half of group sales, recovering next year but not quite to 2019 levels.

Questor describes the company’s 12 June trading update as ‘reassuring’ and notes Credit Suisse has swung from forecasting a £122m operating loss this year to £132m profit and marked up its hopes for the following two years by 11% and 5% respectively.

The road back for events, however, will be a long one, most analysts seem to agree, and although Informa swiftly raised £1bn in an April placing of new shares to boost liquidity, it could take a decade for to regain the 2019 level of earnings per share, according to the received wisdom.

Questor notes that Informa has squeezed costs and says that although business may be slow going to get the crowds back, “Informa is well run and worth the wait”.