The Economist

Logo The Economist  (34.72% of issued capital, 20% of voting rights)



The key consolidated figures of The Economist Group reported for the year ended March 31, 2017 are as follows:


For a correct interpretation of the data is should be noted that financial year of The Economist Group does not coincide with the calendar year but covers the period April 1 – March 31.

For the preparation of the EXOR First Half 2017 the data used refer to the period October 1, 2016 – March 31, 2017.

The Economist Group’s net revenues rose by 7% while operating profit fell by 11%. The stronger dollar meant that at constant exchange rates, Group revenue fell by 3% while operating profit finished 18% lower.

Encouragingly profit from thecirculation business grew 52% as a result of a 20% subscription price rise, an increase in paid volumes, effective marketing and the strong news agenda. However, print advertising revenues continued their decline falling by 23% in the year. This reflected declining global advertising markets, particularly in the US where the market was also impacted by the American presidential election. The decline in advertising revenues means that only 18% of Group sales last year came from advertising, compared with 23% the previous year and more than 40% seven years earlier.

The £97.7 million negative equity attributable to shareholders increased by £20.4 million because of changes in valuation assumptions, which were driven by market conditions, leading to an increase in the defined benefit pension scheme deficit.

Results by division


Revenue by business increased across all divisions helped by a stronger dollar. Within The Economist Businesses, revenue from circulation grew significantly because of higher revenue per copy and an increase in paid volume. The difficult US advertising market coupled with the US political and economic climate affected advertising revenues, which fell 23%. TVC experienced a 6% growth in revenue and non-advertising businesses now make up a quarter of the media division’s revenue.

The Economist Intelligence Unit (EIU) had a good year with revenues rising by 17%. The core economic and political analysis and forecasting business continued to perform strongly. In recent years, the EIU has worked hard to diversify beyond this core revenue stream by developing industry expertise and consulting skills. There was growth in all three consulting divisions of the EIU, with overall consulting revenue increasing by 19%.

CQ Roll Call revenues were affected by the slowing advertising market in the election year. Despite this, the news agenda boosted interest with Roll Call benefiting from a 28% increase in unique visitors and the events business experienced growth in revenue of 53%.


Operating profit was affected by the decline in high-margin print advertising and the increasing complexity of the revenue delivered by the media businesses. In addition, investment continued in the important growth areas of digital, editorial, films and circulation marketing for The Economist as well as in the EIU consulting practices. The EIU’s core economic and political analysis and forecasting businesses continued to perform strongly, contributing to the 10% increase in operating profit. CQ Roll Call’s profits were affected by the lack of congressional action and the presidential election which particularly impacted advertising revenues.

There were a number of exceptional items affecting the result the year. These included the release of a provision for contingent consideration of £7.2 million relating to the 2016 acquisition of Canback, the consumer predictive analytics business, offset by £2.4 million restructuring expenses and £0.9 million onerous property provision costs.

Significant events in the year 2016/2017

It was a year of significant progress for the Group and the circulation business is now the single-largest contributor to the Group’s profits. The coupling of an efficient marketing strategy with a particularly newsworthy environment enabled the circulation business to grow revenues by 21% and profits by 52%.

The year saw the overhaul of the website and the successful launch on Snapchat. Economist Films, Economist Radio and social media have all made dramatic progress and more people engage with The Economist than ever before. Engagement is roughly evenly split between The Economist print edition,, Snapchat and Facebook video. The year also saw the effects of the steep decline in advertising revenue. Beyond advertising, other parts of the media division made progress with TVC increasing its revenue by 6% and the content solutions business continuing to grow its profit margin. To broaden the services offered, the Group acquired Signal Noise, a data visualization design agency, in October 2016. 

The EIU consulting business has recently been restructured which has allowed it to raise the profile of the business and generate new revenue streams. The public policy consulting business grew its revenue by 35% while the healthcare business grew by 20%.

Business outlook

The success of the circulation strategy has encouraged The Economist Group to increase the marketing budget for the next few years. America is the largest market but it has very low penetration in their target readership. The increased investment in circulation marketing will affect the Group’s bottom line in the short term, but the management is confident it will ensure long-term growth for the Group. Steps are also being taken to expand the EIU. Last year, its revenues rose at 17% with healthcare, consumer markets and public policy businesses all showing encouraging growth. Elsewhere in the group, activities are either positioned for growth or for protecting profitability by tightly controlling costs. Much of the digital infrastructure is being upgraded.

On a longer term view, all these factors point to a new phase of growth for the Group.


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