Aegis posts strong interim results and predicts growth

Aegis, the owner of the media networks Carat and Vizeum, has announced a strong set of interim results and predicted further growth in 2004.

The media company posted a rise in group revenue of 7.8 per cent to £295 million for the six months to 30 June. Pre-tax profits rose by £1 million to £30.9 million.

Aegis Media, the Aegis division that houses Carat, Vizeum and Posterscope, increased its turnover by 11 per cent and revenues by 9.2 per cent to £201 million.

The growth was attributed to increased profitability at Carat in Europe and in Carat's Asian and US business. The launch of a research division, Synovate, and the creation of a second media network, Vizeum, also helped to fuel growth.

Doug Flynn, the Aegis chief executive, said he expected the advertising market to grow by 4.3 per cent in 2004, compared with 2.3 per cent this year. He also used the results announcement to attack ITV, arguing that the outcome of the investigation into the merger of Carlton and Granada wouldn't change the "monopolistic" way that it sells advertising.

Flynn said: "This has been one of the busiest periods in the company's recent history and, in addition to improved results, we launched a new media network, consolidated our buying power, internationalised our inter-active media network and rebranded our research business. We expect 2003 to be a satisfactory year and believe that 2004 will show further improvement."

Analysts were impressed with Aegis' performance. Lorna Tilbian, a media analyst at Numis, said: "Although Aegis headlined its interim results release as 'steady all-round progress', we believe that this understates the achievements of the first half. We have consistently asserted that media buying would be an early beneficiary of advertising recovery."

Tilbian added: "Aegis has consistently invested in both of its divisions despite the downturn and is particularly well placed to benefit from recovery."

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