Magazines. Future Plc is re-acquiring from Immediate Media two professional road cycling magazines, the digital-only CyclingNews and the print ProCycling, which had been part of a cycling portfolio it had sold to Immediate for £24m in 2014. The Burda-owned Immediate has no plans to sell the other brands from that original deal including Cycling Plus, Mountain Biking UK and BikeRadar. The brands now being bought back by Future are reported to have advertising-heavy revenues of some £2m and an estimated EBITDA margin of at least 15%. It is believed Future is paying some £2-3m to re-acquire the magazines which it had sold at a time when the UK listed company had issued a profits warning followed by a 30% share price slump, the loss of 170 jobs – and a change of CEO. It is a long five years since then, and CEO Zillah Byng-Thorne has substantially transformed the formerly print-dominant, UK-centric Future into a £460m, debt-free, multi-media group with proprietary tech and diversified revenue streams, almost 50% in the US. This year, it is expected to make EBITDA profit of £34m (from £176m revenue) – some 60% ahead of 2018. Earnings per share are forecast to increase by 15%. The growth is being strongly driven by e-commerce and events in games, music, home interest, hobbies and associated B2B media. Key brands include TechRadar, PC Gamer, Tom’s Guide, Homebuilding & Renovating Show, GamesRadar, The Photography Show, Top Ten Reviews, Live Science, Guitar World, MusicRadar, Space. com and Tom’s Hardware. Future continues to be a significant print publisher with over 80 publications and some 500 bookazines per year. The 17% increase in Future’s share price in the past three months speaks volumes for investor confidence in the successful integration of last year’s major US acquisition of Purch – and of the likelihood of further deals in 2019.
Zillah Byng-Thorne, CEO of Future Plc, will be a keynote speaker at the Digital Media Strategies 2019 conference in London on 2-3 April, presented by Campaign magazine and Flashes & Flames.