Bath-based magazine publisher Future has posted an increase in profits for the six-month period ending March 31, reporting that growth in the games sector is expected to continue into 2006.
However, the company also issued a note of caution to investors, warning that trade for the second-half of the year has so far failed to meet expectations.
Sales for the period stand at UKP 104.3 million - an increase of five per cent - with pre-tax profits rising to UKP 12.8 million. Although UKP 1.6 million was earned from the disposal of non-trading subsidaries, Future also faced exceptional costs such as the UKP 2.2 million lost when the publisher's attempted buyout of Highbury House failed.
Since the start of the financial year Future has acquired 16 titles and launched 13 new magazines. The company also plans to expand and diversify with the acquisition of 38 Highbury titles in a UKP 30.5 million deal expected to complete by the end of June.
First-half adjusted earnings per share are up by 7 per cent and as previously announced, an interim dividend of 0.5 pence per share is being introduced.
"This is an important year for the Group in our stated plan to double the size of the business in terms of both revenues and profits in the next four years. The actions that we have taken this year will expand Future UK by over a third," said Future CEO Greg Ingham.
"The games sector continues to perform well for us and faces significant growth from 2006," he added. According to the report, games magazine performance exceeded expectations in both France and Italy, while computing titles failed to do as well as predicted.
Ingham went on to warn that second-half trading has begun "a little below our expectations, and our short-term outlook is therefore cautious."
"Second half-performance is likely to be affected to some degree by reported weakness in consumer demand," he explained. "However on advertising, Future is less exposed to any downturn in general advertising than some in the media sector."