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17 Sep 2020 | 08:52

Wilmington dividend suspended as it ends year in line

(Sharecast News) - Data and business information company Wilmington reported preliminary results at the top end of its expectations for revenue and profit on Thursday, with revenues for the year falling 8% to £113.1m. The AIM-traded firm said they were impacted by the lack of face-to-face events or training in the final quarter.

It said it had "successfully minimised" its revenue decline through the rapid conversion to virtual formats, and achieved its stated aim of organic revenue growth in the first three quarters, as the final quarter ended 30 June was impacted by Covid-19.

The company said it had benefited from its diversified portfolio, with data and information revenue streams up 2%.

Adjusted EBITA decreased 35% to £14.0m, with the board describing a "resilient" model, as it remained profitable in all four quarters, despite the impact of Covid-19.

Wilmington's adjusted profit before tax was down 39% to £11.9m, and its profit before tax slid to £6.4m from £14.7m.

The directors said that reflected the trading impact of Covid-19, and the non-repeat of the prior year benefit of the sale of ICP.

Adjusted earnings per share were down to 10.71p from 17.44p, and basic earnings per share slid to 5.33p from 12.74p.

The firm reported continued strong cash conversion, at 189%, up from 123% year-on-year, although the figure was 133% when adjusted for IFRS16 and one-off working capital fluctuations.

Group net debt improved Group to £27.7m at year-end, from £33.9m, which represented 1.4x adjusted EBITDA, in line 2019.

Wilmington said it had taken "decisive action" throughout the pandemic to reduce its costs, and protect cash and liquidity.

Debt facilities were in place until July 2023, with "strong" headroom projected throughout.

The board said the dividend remained suspended, but added that it was committed to a resumption as soon as the trading environment normalised.

"In the first nine months of the year we made significant progress on our strategic objectives of generating organic growth through operational excellence, managing our portfolio, and investing in our business," said chief executive officer Mark Milner.

"Whilst results were impacted in the last quarter by the unprecedented challenges and restrictions on running-face-to-face events, Covid-19 has accelerated our strategy of digital transformation, demonstrating Wilmington is fully capable of operating digitally.

"Our talented and dedicated employees innovated quickly, successfully converting our events and training to virtual formats which was a huge undertaking."

Milner said the resilience of Wilmington's business model had been tested, and highlighted the strength of its portfolio, in particular its core, subscription-led data businesses, which he said were holding up well.

"In the first two months of the new financial year, we have remained profitable, in what is traditionally a quiet period for trading during the UK and European holiday season.

"The work that we have done in the last couple of years meant we entered this crisis as an agile and resilient business and I believe these actions will help us to navigate the current challenges and enable us to emerge in a much stronger position."

At 1441 BST, shares in Wilmington were down 0.38% at 130p.
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