Publisher's revamp dents profits

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PROFITS AT the magazine publisher Huveaux, which owns titles such as Dod's Parliamentary Companion, Public Affairs and The House, have fallen far short of analysts' expectations due to restructuring costs and problems at its European and training divisions.

Pre-tax profits doubled to pounds 2.4m last year but were well below market expectations of pounds 3.3m. For this year, analysts predict earnings of pounds 3.6m.

The group, which has built a UK political publishing business through acquisition over the past few years, closed four offices in London and moved into Westminster Tower, incurring costs of pounds 200,000.

John van Kuffeler, the chairman, said: "We have invested in new offices in London to bring our UK political division under one roof and this will generate significant benefits going forward.... The outlook for 2005 is for another year of growth." He said he was "comfortable with analysts' estimates for this year.

Profits this year will benefit from the delayed publication of the second volume of Eurosource, a parliamentary reference book for the European Parliament and Commission, with sales of pounds 250,000 already booked. It was due to be published in November but that was postponed after the European Parliament rejected the proposed EU Commission. That meant Eurosource sales were nil last year, compared with a value of pounds 178,000 in 2003.

Mr Van Kuffeler said: "We were completely stymied because the Parliament voted down the Commission, but it's a plus for this year." He said the book would be published in three weeks, followed by annual updates.

Huveaux also produces training journals and organises work seminars. Its training manual and video sales were down 13 per cent last year, prompting a revamp of its sales method.

The UK political division generated pre-tax profits of pounds 1.2m last year, while its European counterpart achieved pounds 317,000. The training division had profits of pounds 460,000.

Huveaux shares slid 11.5p to 54.5p yesterday.