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B2B could be approaching calmer waters, and digital may be steering the boat: today Informa, publisher of maritime bible Lloyd’s List, repor…

Informa's Lloyd's List magazine
photo: Lloydsshipmanager.com

B2B could be approaching calmer waters, and digital may be steering the boat: today Informa, publisher of maritime bible Lloyd’s List, reported a decline in revenues and operating profits as it continues to weather the economy. But digital is figuring strongly: 72 percent of its publishing revenues now come from digital formats. Publishing overall makes up 72 percent of the company’s adjusted operating profit, and 54 percent of its revenues.

For the year ended 31 December 2009, actual revenues were down by 4 percent to £1.2 billion ($1.8 billion), versus £1.3 billion ($1.9 billion) a year ago, while operating profit fell by 11 percent, to £146 million ($217 million) from £165 million ($246 million). Informa also noted that exhibition bookings for period ahead were slightly ahead of their 2009 levels.

Cost cuts: Despite the fall in revenue and profits, Informa increased its annual dividend to shareholders after cutting its operating costs, up to £11.45 ($17), versus £8.41 for the same period last year. (A Reuters (NYSE: TRI) analyst poll expected a dividend of £10.33.) A move away from costly printing may have played a part, but so did other cost cuts: Informa reduced its total head count by 8 percent, and it says it had overall restructing and reorganisation costs that totalled £34.1 million ($50.7 million). In total the adjusted operating profit was up by 1 percent to £309.5 million ($460 million).

Digital publishing: Informa says its move to digital has been based on “client demands” for the format, and the drive has been across all its major verticals, which range from telecoms and media to energy and financial information, with content published in newsletters, magazines, books and databases. It’s putting a heavy emphasis too on subscription-based services: 64 percent of its publishing revenues come from subscriptions, while only three percent from advertising.

Some divisions are jumping onto digital faster than others: Its professional and commercial information sector, Informa’s largest single division that includes research group Datamonitor, gets some 84 percent of its revenues from digital formats. PCI has some of the highest margins in the group but overall its revenues were still down 2 percent to £368 million ($547 million).

E-books: Informa now has 22,000 titles available digitally, either as e-books or as databases, and revenues in its e-book business by have grown by 33 percent, although it doesn’t say how much that equates to in actual value. No announcements made on any specific deals with e-reader makers.

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