- Group returns to pre-pandemic growth levels
- Shares up 2.5% as group lifts outlook
LONDON, July 29 (Reuters) - The UK's Relx (REL.L) expects 2021 underlying growth rates to be slightly above historical trends due to strong demand for its analytics and fraud prevention services, helping the information provider increase its dividend.
Formerly Reed Elsevier, the group which outperformed the FTSE 100 index for 10 years after transforming from an advertising-supported media group to the more stable world of data and analytics, said it was returning to growth levels seen before the pandemic.
Relx lifted its interim dividend by 5% after it reported a 4% rise in first-half revenue at constant currency, its recent historical average. Adjusted operating profit rose 11% to 1 billion pounds.
"We have increased the dividend consistently over many years, we were able to do so last year, and clearly in increasing the dividend at this stage, then we would expect to continue that record," Finance Director Nick Luff told reporters.
Its growth came from its Risk division, with an underlying profit increase of 12% driven by demand for digital identity solutions, fraud prevention analytics and decision tools which it can run over its extensive data sets.
Its shares rose 2.5%, giving it a value of 40 billion pounds.
Demand for such tools increased during the pandemic as more transactions moved online. First-half results were also boosted by the comparison with a disrupted first-half last year.
The one weakness remained its exhibitions business which holds conferences and events and accounted for 5% of revenue in 2020, down from 16% in 2019. The division posted an operating loss of 48 million pounds, down from 66 million pounds last year after it cut costs.
It said it had held 87 face-to-face events in China, Japan and more recently the United States and while well received, restrictions on size have limited revenue.
Relx said it would not resume its share buyback programme in 2021 while its leverage remained above historical average.
($1 = 0.7175 pounds)
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