Overall revenue for the company grew by 18 percent, to $591.2 million, while operating profit increased by nearly 20 percent to $147.3 million for the first half.
Underlying this growth was the performance of Allworld Exhibitions, a producer of 51 events in Asia that UBM acquired in December 2016.
Without factoring in the topline impact of Allworld, UBM grew revenue by 2.7 percent—still doubling its rate of growth from the first half of 2016, which was 1.3 percent.
“The real message here is that we had a really good first half and we will have a much stronger second half,” Cobbold said, because many of the company’s major events are in the second half of the year. “We can be very confident about the full-year outlook in terms of performance.”
Three elements drove the performance, Cobbold said, the most significant being the Allworld acquisition. Foreign currency exchange conditions were a factor. (The rate of revenue growth would have been 8.3 percent at a constant currency, the company said.) And UBM saw a small decline in its content-marketing business in the first half.
The content-marketing part of UBM’s business is a critical part of its strategy, Cobbold said, helping it pursue its “events first” approach while at the same time retaining the vitality of its events-based communities year round. “We look at them as ‘fully-featured events,’” Cobbold said. “I don’t think it’s enough to think of events as a one-off or once-per-year interaction with a community. The role of media is as a conduit to keep relevant in that community. Digital has a big part to play in helping drive attendance to a show.”
Marketing-services revenue declined by 2.1 percent, to $89.6 million, for the first half, according to the company. That number includes both print and digital sales, of which the print portion declined by double digits and the digital grew by nearly 6 percent.
Another strategic priority, Cobbold said, is to shed smaller and low-growth/low margin events. Generally speaking, that would be events of less than $1.5 million, he said.
In North America, UBM’s major holdings include the former Advanstar, with its giant MAGIC tradeshow franchise. North America accounts for nearly 40 percent of UBM’s overall revenue. “One of the strongest segments for us in the U.S. is fashion,” Cobbold said. “Fashion is caught a little in the decline in retail in the U.S. That impacts some of the buyers who attend our shows and it affects some of the price transparency. We’ve seen some headwinds in fashion.”
UBM BY THE NUMBERS
- First half 2017 revenue (in dollars): $591.2 million
- First half 2017 operating profit (in dollars): $147.3 million
- First half rate of growth (continuing operations): 2.7 percent
- First half rate of growth (including Allworld acquisition): 18.0 percent
- First half rate of growth (including Allworld acquisition and at constant currency value): 8.3 percent
- First half 2017 marketing services revenue: $89.6 million