Thursday 11 February 2021 8:38 am

Relx hikes dividend but warns on exhibitions recovery

Relx today said it plans to lift its full-year dividend by three per cent after growth in its core analytics business offset a sharp decline in exhibitions.

The FTSE 100 group said it had enjoyed continued growth in its science, legal and risk divisions, which make up 95 per cent of its revenue.

Read more: Relx sees revenue from exhibitions business plunge 70 per cent

This mitigated the impact of widespread Covid-19 cancellations in its exhibitions business, which makes up the remaining five per cent. 

Exhibitions revenue plunged 71 per cent while the division swung to a £164m loss, with Relx warning that the timing and pace of recovery in the sector remained uncertain.

Read more: Euromoney revenues drop as pandemic damages events unit

Overall, the media group posted revenue of £7.1bn, a 10 per cent decline on 2019, while pre-tax profit fell 13 per cent to £1.9bn.

Relx proposed a full-year dividend of 47p, up from 45.7p the previous year. Shares pushed up just over one per cent in early trading.

The robust figures reflect Relx’s efforts to move away from its traditional print revenue and focus on data and analytics.

The company last year made a string of acquisitions as part of this strategy, snapping up 11 companies for a combined total of almost £900m.

“Early in the year we decided that it was important not to curtail investment in our three largest business areas to offset any potential shortfall in financial performance from exhibitions,” said chief executive Erik Engstrom.

Read more: Relx snaps up UK analytics firm Scibite in £65m deal

“Accordingly, we continued to invest behind our strategic priorities, the organic development of increasingly sophisticated information-based analytics and decision tools that deliver enhanced value to our customers, and we continued to make targeted acquisitions that support our organic growth strategies.”

Relx said it expected another year of modest underlying growth in 2021, with its core data business nearing pre-Covid levels.