Huntsworth interested in further acquisitions as PR arm keeps 'trading in line'

Huntsworth says its Communications division - which includes Grayling, Red and Citigate - continued to trade in line with expectations in the first four months of 2018, adding that it was "interested" in further acquisitions.

The company said the performance of the Communications arm varied across the agencies, adding: "As previously highlighted, the Communications division will see revenue decline as it continues to exit unprofitable clients."

In a trading update this morning, Huntsworth said that overall it had "traded well" in the period, led by strong growth in the Medical and Immersive divisions, while the Marketing arm was flat against strong comparatives with 2017 – the group divided its business into four divisions earlier this year.

Huntsworth said it "remains in a strong financial position", operating "well within" its £75m bank facility. Cash flow was "strong", it added, and net debt at 18 May was "lower than expected" at around £34m.

Last summer Huntsworth announced it had acquired WRG owner The Creative Engagement Group from private equity firm LDC for £24.7m.

The company said today that recent acquisitions continued to "complement" growth in its healthcare-focused agencies.

It added: "With a strong balance sheet, the group remains interested in adding further selective complementary businesses within stringent ROIC [return on invested capital] and earnings enhancing criteria.

"The board is confident of continued progress through the remainder of 2018," it said.

Huntsworth earlier reported strong growth in operating profit across its PR agencies in 2017 despite a revenue dip, in what the company described as a year of "strong progress".

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