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Reed Elsevier (RUK)

H1 2012 Earnings Call

July 26, 2012 4:00 am ET


Anthony Habgood - Chairman, Member of Remuneration Committee and Chairman of Reed Elsevier NV

Mark H. Armour - Chief Financial Officer, Member of Executive Council, Member of Executive Board and Executive Director

Erik Engstrom - Chief Executive Officer, Member of Executive Board and Executive Director


Sami Kassab - Exane BNP Paribas, Research Division

Andrea Beneventi - CA Cheuvreux, Research Division

Alastair Reid - UBS Investment Bank, Research Division

Nick Michael Edward Dempsey - Barclays Capital, Research Division

Alexander Christian DeGroote - Panmure Gordon & Co. plc, Research Division

Richard Jones - Goldman Sachs Group Inc., Research Division

Ian Whittaker - Liberum Capital Limited, Research Division

Mark Braley - Deutsche Bank AG, Research Division

Jonathan Helliwell - Berenberg Bank, Research Division


Anthony Habgood

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Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for coming, for battling you way in this morning and for those of you on the webcast, thank you for listening in. It gives me a particular pleasure today that we're reporting first half results, which are showing growth in sales and profits for all 5 of our businesses. With underlying revenues and constant currency growing on aggregate of 5%, earnings per share for the parent company has grew at 11% for PLC and 18% for NV. These are record results and mark an important step for us, in that they really reaffirm our positive momentum. We're also reaffirming our commitment to continuing to dispose of businesses that no longer fit our strategy and to do this for the benefit of our shareholders.

Our increase in dividends of 6% for PLC and 18% for NV reflect the earnings increases and our confidence in the future. The evolution of our boards is continuing with our announcement today that Linda Sanford will be joining us in December. As Senior Vice President of Enterprise Transformation and IT of IBM Corporation, Linda has over 35 years experience in technological businesses and in particular, in leveraging technology to achieve business transformation. She's also been a nonexecutive director of ITT for almost 15 years. And I'm sure she will bring valuable experience to our boards.

Mark will now take you through the results and Erik will describe the forward momentum in the businesses in more detail.

Mark H. Armour

Thank you, Chairman, and good morning. I'm pleased to report a very strong set of results. Underlying revenue growth was 5%, excluding a 2% benefit from buying the exhibitions cycling in. That is exhibitions that took place this year, but not last year, underlying revenue growth was 3%. Underlying operating profit growth was 7%.

Including acquisitions and disposals, overall revenue was up 5% at constant currencies and in sterling. In euros, overall revenues were up 12%, reflecting the weakening of the euro first half from first half. The adjusted operating margin increased 1.1 percentage points to 27.7%. Adjusted earnings per share were up 11% for Reed Elsevier PLC at 24.7%, and up 18% for Reed Elsevier NV at EUR 0.47, and it's good to hear the bank chimed in.

On constant currencies, adjusted earnings per share were up 10%. The growth in reported EPS, that is including amortization of acquired intangible assets and disposal gains was 52% for Reed Elsevier PLC, and 57% for Reed Elsevier NV.

Cash flow was strong, with a 52% conversion of adjusted operating profits into cash in the first half, and 94% on the last 12 months basis. Our balance sheet is in good shape with net debt-to-EBITDA of 2.3x on a pensions and lease adjusted basis, or 1.7x on an unadjusted basis.

Interim dividend is up 6% for Reed Elsevier PLC and up 18% for Reed Elsevier NV. The significantly higher increase for Reed Elsevier NV reflects the weakening of the euro against sterling since last year's interim dividend announcement.

I'm presenting the figures today, as usual, in sterling. The same charts with euro figures can be found in the appendices of the presentation. Reported revenues and adjusted operating profits were up 5% and 9%, respectively, in sterling, and up 5% and 8%, respectively, constant currencies.

Interest expense was lower, principally reflecting the redemption of debt at the beginning of the year, giving adjusted pretax profit up 11% in sterling and at constant currencies. In euros, there were up 18%.

The effective tax rate was up 40 basis points, reflecting increased profit and geographic mix. Adjusted net profit was up 11% in sterling and 10% at constant currencies. The increase in euros was 18%.

Focusing on revenue, profit and margin. As said earlier, underlying revenue growth was 5% and operating profit -- underlying operating profit growth was 7%, with each of our businesses contributing underlying revenue and profit growth.

The 110 basis points increase in operating margin included 40 basis points from portfolio change, including the effect of low margin disposals in the prior year, as well as this year. The margin increase also included 10 basis points from currency effects, with a positive impact from the multiyear subscription currency hedging program in Elsevier, mostly offset by unfavorable currency translation mix effects. The impact of currency hedging and translation effects in Elsevier is set out in the appendix. The underlying margin improvement to 60 basis points reflects the revenue growth and improvement in operating efficiency, while we continue to invest in new product initiatives, sales and marketing and market expansion.

Our 5% underlying revenue growth came from Elsevier, up 2%, resolutions up 5%, legal and professional up 1%, Reed Exhibitions up 23%, and RBI up 1%. The difference between the underlying change and the constant rate changes reflects acquisitions and disposals.

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