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Ascential PLC

Ascential plc Strong strategic progress & organic growth in revenue and profit

Ascential plc (LON:ASCL), the specialist, global information company, today announced results for the six-month period ended 30 June 2019.  Ascential’s three main business segments are Product Design, Marketing and Sales.

Strategic and operational highlights

·      Strong progress against our four key priorities for 2019:

  • Focus on execution: extend market leadership of digital information products and establish strategic client programme.
  • Integration of Edge.
  • Returning Marketing segment to growth after successful reset of Cannes Lions and MediaLink in 2018.
  • Rollout of One Ascential Operating Model.

·      Segmental performance in line with expectations:

  • Product Design: revenue up 9% and successful launch of WGSN Beauty.
  • Marketing: return to growth with revenues up 13% driven by double digit growth in both Cannes Lions and MediaLink.
  • Sales: Organic growth of 3% (proforma 11%), Edge integration on track, excellent growth in Flywheel Digital and good overall growth in Money20/20.

Financial highlights

·      Strong revenue growth to £236.2m (2018: £188.9m).

  • Reported growth of 25.0%.
  • Growth of 8.7% on an Organic basis, 11.0% on a Proforma basis.

·      Strong Adjusted EBITDA growth to £76.7m (2018: £63.3m).

  • Reported growth of 21.1%.
  • Growth of 9.3% on an Organic basis, 10.8% on a Proforma basis.
  • Margin at 32.5% (2018: 33.5%).

·      Reported operating profit of £36.0m up 23.3% (2018: £29.2m).

·      Strong growth in earnings per share: Adjusted diluted EPS on continuing operations of 11.5p up 22.3% (2018: 9.4p).

·      Good cash generation: operating cash flow conversion of 102% (2018: 122%), resulting in closing net debt leverage of 0.9x (December 2018: 1.1x) allowing headroom for continued investment in organic growth and bolt-on acquisitions.

·      Interim dividend of 1.8p (2018: 1.9p) with the prior year benefiting from earnings from discontinued operations.

Duncan Painter, Chief Executive Officer, commented:

“In the first six months of the year Ascential has made considerable progress against our four key goals for 2019: focus on execution; integration of Edge; returning our Marketing segment to growth; and rolling out our One Ascential Operating Model across Ascential. 

This operational progress, together with the acceleration of WGSN, the excellent performance of Flywheel and good growth at Money20/20, give the Board confidence in our overall 2019 performance and our medium-term target to achieve double-digit growth.”