Future shares tank as ailing publisher falls to annual loss

SHARES in Future, the troubled magazine publisher, plunged by almost a fifth yesterday, after it fell to an annual pre-tax loss of £18m.

The firm, which publishes magazines as diverse as Total Film, Cycling Plus and Simply Knitting, scrapped its dividend until at least 2013 after revenues at its ailing US division tumbled by 16 per cent.

Shares in the firm, which have lost almost 70 per cent of their value since the start of the year, closed down 16.7 per cent yesterday at 8.75p. In 2010, it posted a profit of £5.6m.

Last month, former chief executive Stevie Spring quit the firm along with the then finance director, in a move that will save the business around £1m in annual costs.

Yesterday, new chief executive Mark Wood said he would continue to restructure the business with a view to cutting costs by an annualised £4.5m before the end of the year.

Wood pointed to higher digital revenues, which were up 31 per cent to £16.2m, as a reason to be hopeful.

But online sales accounted for just a tenth of group revenue. Print sales – which comprised some four fifths of group income – fell by 11 per cent to £113.4m.

The firm refused to be drawn on suggestions it was now cheap enough to be a target for a private equity bidder.

The strongest-performing part of the business was the Active division that houses its cycling magazines and websites, which benefited from the bike craze that is sweeping across Britain.