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Relx PLC Continued underlying growth in revenue

Relx PLC (LON:REL), the global provider of information-based analytics and decision tools, today reported continued underlying growth
in revenue, operating profit and earnings in the first half of 2019, and reaffirms the full year outlook.

Highlights

  • Revenue £3,888m +6%, underlying growth +3%
  • Adjusted operating profit £1,240m +8%, underlying growth +4%
  • Adjusted EPS 45.9p +12%, constant currency growth +8%
  • Reported operating profit £1,048m +8%
  • Reported EPS 39.9p +17%
  • Interim dividend 13.6p +10%
  • Strong financial position and cash flow, net debt/EBITDA 2.6x (2.3x excluding leases and pensions)
  • Completed 8 acquisitions for a total consideration of £246m
  • £400m of share buybacks completed in H1, further £200m to be deployed in H2

Outlook

The full year outlook is unchanged. As we enter the second half of 2019 key business trends for the full year are in line with the full year 2018. We remain confident that, by continuing to execute on our strategy, we will deliver another year of underlying growth in revenue and in adjusted operating profit, together with growth in adjusted earnings per share on a constant currency basis in 2019

Commenting on the results, Sir Anthony Habgood, Chairman, said:

“Our continued positive overall development was reflected in strong first half earnings. Adjusted earnings per share grew +12% in sterling, +8% at constant currencies, and we have announced an increase in the interim dividend of +10%.”

Chief Executive Officer, Erik Engstrom, commented:

“RELX continued to make good progress in the first half of 2019, with underlying revenue and adjusted operating profit growth across all four business areas, and recent acquisitions performing well. As we enter the second half of 2019 key business trends for the full year are in line with the full year 2018.”

“Our number one strategic priority is unchanged: the organic development of increasingly sophisticated information-based analytics and decision tools that deliver enhanced value to our customers, supplemented by selective acquisitions of targeted data, analytics and exhibition assets that support our organic growth strategies.”

FINANCIAL RESULTS

Revenue £3,888m (£3,653m) +6%; underlying growth +3%: The underlying growth rate reflects good growth in electronic and face-to-face revenues (92% of the total), and the further development of our analytics and decision tools, partially offset by continued print revenue declines.

Adjusted operating profit £1,240m (£1,149m) +8%; underlying growth +4%: Growth was driven by revenue growth and continued operating process innovation.

Reported operating profit £1,048m (£969m) +8%: Reported operating profit includes amortisation of acquired intangible assets of £147m and acquisition-related costs of £38m.

Interest and tax: Adjusted net interest expense was £97m (£95m), and adjusted tax was £248m (£234m). The adjusted effective tax rate was 21.7%, in line with full year 2018. Reported net interest was £103m (£100m), and reported tax was £223m (£192m).

Adjusted EPS 45.9p (41.1p) +12%, constant currency growth +8%

Reported EPS 39.9p (34.1p) +17%: Reported EPS includes gains on disposals and other non-operating items of £57m.

Dividend: We have announced an interim dividend of 13.6p (12.4p) +10%.

Net debt/EBITDA 2.6x (2.5x) including leases and pensions: Net debt, including leases as per IFRS 16, was £6.6bn (£6.2bn) at 30 June 2019. The increase in the net debt/EBITDA ratio reflects a higher pension deficit compared to 30 June 2018. The adjusted cash flow conversion rate was 94% (93%), with capital expenditure as a percentage of revenues of 4%. Excluding leases and pensions, net debt/EBITDA was 2.3x (2.3x).

Portfolio development: In the first half of 2019 we completed 8 acquisitions of content, data analytics and exhibition assets for a total consideration of £246m, and disposed of 5 assets for a total of £45m.

Share buybacks: We deployed £400m on share buybacks in the first half of 2019, and we intend to deploy a further £200m in the second half, bringing the full year total to the previously announced £600m. Of the £200m second half total, £50m has already been completed since 1 July 2019.