UPDATE 1-Publishing unit growth drives Informa profit

Fri Feb 21, 2014 5:48am EST

(Adds CEO and analyst comment, details; updates share movement)

Feb 21 (Reuters) - British business media group Informa Plc reported a 3 percent rise in full-year profit, helped by stronger performance at its publishing business in the second half.

The company, which publishes academic journals and books and provides real-time news, research and market data, said it would focus on delivering growth in 2014 despite a stronger sterling.

Informa, which gets a bulk of its revenue from the United States, sold its corporate training businesses for $180 million last July to focus on its core events and academic publishing businesses.

The company said it there would be "measured change and operational focus" in 2014, but did not provide specific details on further divestments that some analysts were expecting.

"This is a people business that has been run by one person for 25 years in one way," Chief Executive Stephen Carter said. Carter took over from long-time CEO Peter Rigby in January.

"I am not approaching this with an agenda of fast ill-thought through radical change," said Carter, formerly the chief of Britain's media watchdog, Ofcom.

The group, which has over 55,000 titles and dates back to 1734 with the first London shipping list, said adjusted pretax profit from continuing operations rose to 307.6 million pounds ($512.44 million) in the year ended Dec. 31 from 298.2 million pounds a year earlier.

Organic revenue from continuing operations rose 1.5 percent to 1.13 billion pounds.

Organic revenue in its academic publishing business rose 5.3 percent to account for a third of total revenue. In the events business, which organises exhibitions, organic revenue rose 3 percent.

Organic revenue in its business intelligence unit, which provides data and analysis to the healthcare, pharmaceutical, and financial services among others sectors, fell 4 percent.

Carter said he would focus on bringing the business intelligence unit back to growth after two years of declines in organic revenue.

"In our view, the aim must be to redeploy resources towards those businesses that have the greatest potential to increase the pedestrian 1.5 percent underlying organic growth," Peel Hunt analyst Malcom Morgan said in a note.

Informa shares rose as much as 3.5 percent in early trading on the London Stock Exchange but lost some of those gains to trade up 1.5 percent at 530 pence at 1045 GMT. ($1 = 0.6003 British pounds) (Reporting by Abhirup Roy in Bangalore; Editing by Supriya Kurane and Saumyadeb Chakrabarty)