(Recasts with CEO interview)
AMSTERDAM, July 31 Dutch publisher Wolters
Kluwer plans further investment in Europe, where it
sees some pockets of growth, Chief Executive Nancy McKinstry
said on Wednesday.
The company, which sells specialist publications and
software to bankers, lawyers, accountants, doctors and
scientists, reported a 2 percent decline in revenues in Europe
in the first half.
"We're taking a long-term view, and we continue to invest in
Europe. We see pockets of growth," McKinstry told Reuters in a
telephone interview, adding that the more attractive areas
included tax and legal software.
Specialist publishers such as Wolters Kluwer have made the
shift from print to online across their various businesses to
The Dutch company spent 170 million euros in total on
acquisitions in the first half, including deals in the United
States and Brazil, while raising about 75 million euros from
divestments. McKinstry said Wolters Kluwer would continue to
divest as it strengthens its online portfolio.
She said the pace of decline in business in Europe had
slowed but remained cautious, particularly on southern Europe.
Wolters Kluwer reported first-half earnings before interest,
tax and amortisation (EBITA) of 334 million euros ($443 million)
on Wednesday, in line with forecasts, and reiterated its
full-year outlook for a low single-digit percentage rise in
earnings per share.
It said the ordinary EBITA margin - 19.2 percent in the
first six months - was expected to improve in the second half.
Wolters Kluwer set targets for ordinary EBITA margin - or
the margin for EBITA adjusted for exceptional items - of 21.5 to
22.0 percent. It targets free cash flow of 475 million euros or
more, and a return on invested capital of 8 percent or more.
First-half revenue was flat at 1.74 billion euros. Analysts
in a poll commissioned by Reuters had forecast EBITA of 334
million euros on revenue of 1.72 billion euros.
The Dutch group competes with Reuters' owner Thomson Reuters
and with Anglo-Dutch information group Reed
Elsevier , which last week increased its share
buyback programme and announced a bigger-than-expected interim
dividend as its results beat forecasts.
($1 = 0.7547 euros)
(Reporting by Sara Webb; Editing by Gilbert Kreijger and Mark