Centaur losses widen as revenue drops by 24 per cent

Business publisher Centaur Media has reported that it losses widened in the second half of last year

Centaur, which publishes titles including The Lawyer and Marketing Week, said today it made a loss before tax of £1.7m in the last six months of 2009 - however some areas of the business had returned to growth in the early part of this year - it said.

Revenue fell to £23.9m in the second half of 2009 from the £31.5m revenue total for the first six months of the year (when it reported al loss of £0.1m).

Recruitment advertising revenues in the second half of 2009 were half what they were in the same period a year ago, the company said, and other forms of ad revenue were 22 per cent lower.

Print revenue dropped to £11.8m from the £16.4m made in the same period the previous year, while online revenue fell to £6.9m for the period from the £7.9m in made in the second half of 2008.

The company's legal & financial division reported a 24 per cent reduction in revenue to £6.6m.

The marketing & creative division reported a year-on-year revenue decrease of 37 per cent to £5.5m. Construction & engineering revenues decreased by 20 per cent year-on-year to £6.1m.

Revenue from Centaur's events business was £4.8m over the period, 27 per cent below the same period in 2008, while its Perfect Information online business had flat revenue of £2.5m and general business services revenue amounted to £3.2m for the period, a 20 per cent drop.

The company said today's figures showed the "continued weakness" in its markets but it noted that November and December saw a slowing of the rate of revenue decline to 15 per cent.

Geoff Wilmot, chief executive of Centaur, said: "This stabilisation has continued during January and February with some areas of the group reporting year-on-year growth in those months.

"As a result of this increasing confidence in trading conditions the board has declared a 20 per cent increase in interim dividend to 0.6p."

Declines were offset partially by a further reduction in costs, which fell to £23.9m from the £29.6m in the first half of last year, the company added.

In October, media acquisitions firm Critical Information said it retained an interest in buying Centaur despite having an initial proposal rejected by the business publisher which claimed the proposal undervalued the company.

Critical Information ended that interest in December after being set a "put up or shut up" deadline.

Centaur said today: "Given the fundamental strengths of the group and the recovery prospects...we had no hesitation in concluding that their indicative proposal materially undervalued Centaur and was not in the best interests of its shareholders."

Oliver Luft writes for Press Gazette