Porta targets acquisitions after 'very strong' second half of 2015

Porta Communications says it experienced "very strong" trading in the second half of 2015, as it targets "a number of potential acquisitions" for this year.

Porta CEO David Wright: Overseeing growth at the Newgate, Redleaf and Publicasity owner
Porta CEO David Wright: Overseeing growth at the Newgate, Redleaf and Publicasity owner

Headline underlying earnings (EBITDA) were up more than 40 per cent in the half-year and nearly 17 per cent in 2015 overall, the firm said in a trading statement this morning.

Gross profit was almost £2.5m higher than in the comparable period in the previous year, leaving full-year growth around 40 per cent above the £19.4m generated in 2014, despite the closure of the Brussels and Frankfurt offices in the second half of 2015.

Reported EBITDA has more than doubled in the year, said Porta, whose PR agencies include Newgate, Thirteen, Redleaf Communications and Publicasity.

The company said: "Exceptional costs, predominantly reorganisation (closures and redundancy costs), were high following the implementation of the management programme to close non-performing companies and account groups ahead of some very senior hires in the current year. The appointment of Steffan Williams [in September] has already had a big impact at Newgate with a number of new business wins, including Glencore."

Porta said Redleaf Communications had a "record 12 months" in its first full year as part of Porta, while Publicasity (acquired in November 2014) has "performed really well under its new management team".

The firm said Newgate Australia "continues to be one of the star performers", but added that the weakness of the Australian dollar had hit underlying earnings there by more than £110,000.

It said Newgate Hong Kong had a "very solid year" with EBITDA margins of over 35 per cent.

Porta added: "Prospects for the current year look very exciting given the internal changes made and the quality of new senior recruits. New business levels and opportunities are extremely buoyant and we are looking at a number of potential acquisitions that will accelerate our growth plans if successful."

Speaking to PRWeek following Porta’s half-year results announcement in September, CEO David Wright said the group’s focus was now on "building our established brands and expanding both our geographical reach and range of services".

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