November 23, 2012 5:19 pm

Future sees digital revenues surge

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Future, the magazine publisher, returned to profitability and saw its digital revenues surge 30 per cent over the past year even as its traditional print business continued to decline.

The publisher of T3, Total Film and Classic Rock made a pre-tax profit of £1.1m for the year ended 30 September, compared to a loss of £18m in 2011. Group revenue fell 13 per cent to £123.5m.

Future’s print business, which accounts for 82 per cent of total revenues, continued to suffer from the same challenges facing rival publishers such as Condé Nast and Bauer Media.

Its print subscriber base fell 16 per cent to 818,000 and print advertising revenues fell 13 per cent.

However, Future stemmed the decline of its print operations through rapid growth in digital, with gross revenues from digital edition sales now running at $1m per month.

Future’s websites, which include techradar.com and bikeradar.com, saw more than 50m global unique users per month, an increase of 70 per cent.

Digital revenues of £20.6m represented 18 per cent of the group revenues, up from £15.8m in 2011.

Mark Wood, chief executive, forecast that digital revenues would become the biggest part of the business within the next three or four years.

As well as growing its digital audience and advertising sales, Future has started to license its own tablet software – FutureFolio – to publishers in countries from the UK to Taiwan.

It has also moved into the production of digital magazines for other companies and has secured deals to produce the iPad versions of Jamie Oliver Magazine and Auto Trader’s magazine Ignition.

Future is also exploring ways of making money from e-commerce. “We’re looking at how we can work with retailers to help them reach more potential customers but also give us a bigger share of the transaction revenue,” said Mr Wood.

The group said it was considering a resumption of dividend payments in 2013.

Future’s shares rose more than 4 per cent to 18p on Friday, having almost doubled in price since the start of the year.

“People have cottoned on to the fact that in Future, we have the potential for a good digital winner,” said Malcolm Morgan, media analyst at Peel Hunt.

Future’s net debt rose 19 per cent over the year to £14.1m, which was 1.5 times earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation.

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