Message from Centaur’s results: diversify because the recession is not over

The message for publishers from Centaur Media’s results today is clear: diversify.  Centaur should drop the “media” from its title and put “content” in its place.

Centaur’s revenue is up 14% in the half year to December 2012 on the corresponding half year.  And its earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortization (EBITDA) is up 81%.

Centaur's business
Centaur’s business

Publishing down 15%

But here’s the rub: revenues for business publishing are down 15%, on business information up 155% and on exhibitions up 8%.   The big growth in business information is partly due to an acquisition.

Publishing profits treble

There is good news for EBITDA margins: trebled to 6% in business publishing, nearly halved to 18% in business information and doubled to 6% in exhibitions.

Centaur's sector results
Centaur’s sector results

The balance of Centaur’s business is that just under a majority of revenues come from business publishing.  But the balance of the profits show that the majority of EBITDA comes from business information.

Centaur's buisness now weighted to business information
Centaur’s business now weighted to business information

Morals

The morals of this story:

  • There’s profit still to be had from business publishing as long as costs are tightly controlled even in a declining market;
  • The bigger profits are in business information; and
  • You need to keep shareholders happy: the dividend rose 10%.

Business publishing: bellwether of the economy

I have always thought that magazine publishing is a bellwether for the whole economy, especially business publishing.  It is fast into a recession and often fast out.  It leads in both directions.  These Centaur results show us that things are not easing because Centaur’s business publishing revenue is down. But good management can increase profits.  Are we at the end of the recession?  Not yet.

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