TIDMCAU 19 November 2009 Centaur Media plc ('Centaur' or 'the Group') INTERIM MANAGEMENT STATEMENT Centaur Media plc, the specialist business publishing and information group, today issues an interim management statement for the period from 30 June 2009 to the date of this announcement, incorporating a trading update for the four month period to 31 October 2009. Overall trading performance At the time of our preliminary results announcement on 17 September 2009 we reported some evidence of stabilisation in our markets and a reduction in the rate of year-on-year revenue decline since the start of the new financial year. Since that time we have seen a continuation of this trend. In particular, average monthly advertising revenues were approximately 10% ahead of the average monthly level reported during January to June 2009, with both print and online products delivering similar levels of recovery. Nevertheless, due in part to the relative strength of revenues in the prior year, the Group has experienced a 28% year-on year decline in revenues during the four month period to 31 October 2009, this being in line with the Board's expectations. This represents a slower rate of decline than the 32% reduction experienced in the January to June 2009 period. This four month period includes the seasonally weaker trading months of July and August. The stabilisation of revenues referred to above has been more pronounced during September and October, as reflected in the relative improvement in advertising revenues from levels achieved in the six months to June 2009. The Events portfolio, which is largely second half weighted, has also had an encouraging start to the new financial year. The main established exhibition staged during the four month period to 31 October 2009 was Employee Benefits Live, where revenues were strongly ahead year-on-year. In addition, we had a successful launch of the National Home Improvement Show ("NHIS") which replaced the London Homebuilding Show. NHIS attracted 13,000 visitors to Earls Court in early October 2009 and received positive exhibitor endorsement through an 80% onsite re-book for next year's show. Meanwhile, forward sponsorship bookings within the Group's conference portfolio also showed some year-on-year improvement at 31 October 2009, although delegate sales remained patchy. The revenue reduction in the four month period to 31 October 2009 continued to be partly mitigated by the effect of cost savings arising from initiatives completed in the last financial year. In total Group costs in this period were 21% below the same period last year with a further 3% reduction in Group headcount achieved since 30 June 2009 over the headcount reduction of 18% achieved in the financial year to 30 June 2009. There have been no material changes to trading conditions in the period from 31 October 2009 to the date of this announcement. Cash flow and balance sheet The Group continues to maintain a strong balance sheet and although working capital requirements are traditionally high at this stage in our financial year, the Group's banking facilities, in place until 2012, adequately cover any short term borrowing requirements. Fundamental strengths of Group unchanged The continued investment through the downturn has resulted in a strengthening of many fundamental aspects of the Group and this presents an exceptional opportunity for growth as markets continue to recover. The fundamental strengths of the Group include: * Market leading brands - we have increased the market share of our major brands across our communities over the past year. * Improved fixed cost base - as a result of initiatives completed in the last financial year annualised Group expenditure has reduced by around GBP12 million, a large proportion of which represents a reduction in the fixed cost base of the business that will contribute strongly to margin improvement as revenues return. * Strong organic growth record - new product development was maintained through the downturn with a continuing strong pipeline of new product initiatives including the development of our online sales lead generation model (Pro-talk), further roll out of our B2B online platform, workflow products at Perfect Information and further new event launches. * Strong balance sheet - beyond short term working capital funding we remain debt free and the Group is well positioned to take advantage of future investment and acquisition opportunities. * Cyclical recovery - as in previous cycles the recovery is expected to drive strong revenue growth for the Group, which should attract a high level of marginal profitability enhanced by the investments we have made in our online businesses. * Experienced management - the strength of our management team is a key success criterion in driving organic growth and identifying relevant acquisition opportunities. Rejection of unsolicited approach On 20 October 2009, Centaur announced, in response to an announcement the same day from Critical Information Group plc ("CIG"), that it had received an unsolicited approach from CIG regarding a possible offer for the Group which was conditional on, inter alia, financing and due diligence. The Board reviewed CIG's approach with its advisers, and, given the fundamental strengths of the Group outlined above, had no hesitation in concluding that their indicative proposal materially undervalued Centaur and was not in the best interests of its shareholders. Subsequently, on 12 November 2009, CIG announced that it did not wish to proceed with an offer for the Group. Board changes On 22 October 2009, the Company announced that Graham Sherren intended to step down as Chairman at the Company's Annual General Meeting on 10 December 2009. He intends to remain on the Board as a non-executive director for a further 12 months and will put himself forward for election in that capacity at this year's AGM. The Board has decided to appoint senior non-executive director, Patrick Taylor, as Chairman and his re-election as a director will be proposed at the AGM. Outlook In summary, while levels of forward visibility remain low, the Board is confident that the Group is well positioned to take advantage of a continued recovery with the prospect of a return to growth during 2010. Enquiries: Centaur Media plc Tel: 020 7970 4000 Geoff Wilmot, CEO; Mike Lally, GFD Kreab Gavin Anderson Tel: 020 7554 1400 Robert Speed, Anthony Hughes =--END OF MESSAGE--- This announcement was originally distributed by Hugin. The issuer is solely responsible for the content of this announcement.
(END) Dow Jones Newswires
November 19, 2009 02:03 ET (07:03 GMT)