A profit warning from magazine publisher Future (FUTR) triggers the second slump in its share price this year, following a sell-off in early 2014. The £33 million cap warned on 3 February that its full-year results would be at the lower end of market forecasts after a slowdown in advertising revenue. It now says this downturn in trading continued in February, so finals will be 'significantly below' market forecasts. The stock falls 24% to 9.9p on the warning.
Future has announced plans to focus primarily on the technology, sports and photography sectors where it has market-leading positions. That implies potential title closures in other areas. Indeed, it says action has started to 'achieve a significant reduction' in the cost base. We'll find out more when interim results are published on 23 May.
Investors have endured a poor share price performance since 2005, as the chart illustrates. It has been a regular offender with profit warnings, a reflection of how dependent the business is on print advertising income.
The business looked to be finding a stronger position last year as net debt more than halved following the sale of non-core print activities, a rise in US operating profit and growth in UK advertising and circulation revenues. Investors even saw the return of the dividend.
Sadly Future has once again gone into reverse. In February, stockbroker Numis wrote: 'We retain our view that the group is making good progress in driving digital and diversified revenues and expect these revenue streams to rise as a proportion of the group total going forwards. A more buoyant macro environment in the UK and US, new console launches and the UK hosting of the opening stages of the Tour de France bode well for the balance of 2014.'
Numis now puts its price target, recommendation and earnings forecasts under review until more detail is given by Future at its interims in May.