A sign of the times? Exhibitions and conferences business ITE Group, whose largest market is Russia and Ukraine, says it's back on form.
Alright, so the company's pre-tax profits fell 3.9 per cent to £17.5m in the six months to the end of March, while revenues dropped from £71.2m in 2014 to £56.1m. And net debt rose to £56.1m, from, er, £1.8m the year before.
But that's partly to do with the spending spree the company has been on in recent months; in an attempt to diversify out of Russia, it bought Eurasia Rail in Turkey, Africa Oil Week in South Africa and the Breakbulk series of events.
Meanwhile, volumes in Russia fell 16 per cent, hitting headline profit before tax to the tune of £2.5m. In Moscow, like-for-like volume sales fell 11 per cent, while the Moscow International Travel & Tourism event, ITE's biggest Russian event in the first half, suffered a 20 per cent decline in volume sales.
Investors seemed pleased, though: shares in ITE rose 4.37 per cent to 197.25p in early trading.
Why it matters
It's been a tough year for the company, but this morning it said the Russian market had "stabilised", suggesting Russian consumer reluctance – and Europeans' reluctance to travel to Moscow – is beginning to wane.
But could there be more woes in store for the company? This morning the Russian and Chinese navies will begin to conduct joint drills in the Mediterranean, an act which will presumably serve to irritate both European and US leaders. The message? Russian-European relations are unlikely to improve anytime soon.
So ITE's decision to diversify out of the country is sensible. Whether it can move fast enough is another question – although this morning's results seemed to be enough to impress shareholders.
What ITE said
The group enters the second half of the year in a good financial position with long-term secured bank facilities to fund future corporate development. ITE continues to generate good cash flows and will continue with its successful strategy of developing market leading positions in higher growth markets and of further diversifying its portfolio outside of Russia.
The group operates a resilient business model, with a flexible cost base and is well positioned to weather the adverse economic conditions in Russia. With good visibility on current year bookings the board remains confident in the full year outcome and in the group's future prospects.
It's been a tough year, but diversifying out of Russia will give shareholders a confidence boost.