Future Network promises to double profits in four years

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The Independent Online

Future Network, the publisher of the official PlayStation 2 and Xbox magazines, laid out plans yesterday to double the size of its business in just four years, including an ambitious acquisition strategy.

Future Network, the publisher of the official PlayStation 2 and Xbox magazines, laid out plans yesterday to double the size of its business in just four years, including an ambitious acquisition strategy. Greg Ingham, the chief executive, said the company's previous growth spurt, during the internet boom, which ended in an emergency rights issue and radical restructuring of the business in 2001, had no bearing on its new plans.

These will involve taking advantage of a debt-free balance sheet, which Mr Ingham said could support borrowings of £100m, to increase sales and profits by 100 per cent.

He said: "What happened previously was related to an attempt to galvanise the business in the face of what seemed to be a threat and an opportunity from the internet at the time. We have since reverted to the company's long-term position as a special interest consumer magazine group. Since 2001 we have increased revenues 33 per cent and profits by 136 per cent."

Future once had a stock market value of £1bn, which shrank to just £32m after a series of profits warnings in 2001. The company has since rebounded to a value of more than £200m and its shares were up again yesterday, rising 9 per cent to 68.5p on the back of full-year results that showed turnover up from £177.7m to £190.4m and pre-tax profits of £23.6m compared with £23.3m. The company also increased its dividend 20 per cent to 1.5p a share.

Mr Ingham said: "We've had 20 years in business, that's slightly forgotten. It is a very tightly structured business; it's got good corporate governance and a very powerful board."

He declined to say which subject areas the company would seek to acquire titles in, but said its focus would be in the US and the UK with the possibility of expansion in France.

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