Publisher United Business Media has celebrated a firsthalf increase in profits of 30 per cent - due to gains at its press release distribution business and the pharmaceutical information unit it bought last year.
London-based UBM, which also publishes speciality magazines and runs events around the world, said the outlook for the second half was broadly in line with the first, as gains in underlying revenue growth were seen being offset by increased investment. UBM shares gained 2.9 per cent to 543 penceas Merrill Lynch upgraded its rating to "buy."
Chief Executive David Levin, who took over from Clive Hollick earlier this year, said UBM would shed its minority stakes in a handful of businesses this year.
It would seek to buy companies that distribute information electronically with an eye on higher-growth geographic regions.
UBM has already sold or agreed to sell nearly £700 million of assets this year, including the NOP World market research unit and its stake in Channel Five. But Mr Levin had yet to discuss what the company would do with all the cash or discuss a broader strategy.
"Clearly there is a shift from print towards events and online channels of distribution, and we would be looking to invest to support that transfer," he said.
"We'll be looking for opportunities to expand our footprint in areas of fasterthanaverage expected economic growth," he added.
"That would lead you to think that we're going to look for opportunities around Asia, China and other emerging markets."
UBM returned £300 million to shareholders in April using part of the proceeds from the sale of NOP World, and Mr Levin said it would consider returning more.
"The target against which we'll measure everything is maximum return to shareholders," he said.
This year UBM has made seven acquisitions totalling £67 million.
"Migrating print based revenue to online remains the management's biggest challenge and where we still don't rule out the need to step up investment," Merrill Lynch analyst Paul Sullivan said.
First-half pre-tax profit increased to £81.3 million, while revenue rose 20 per cent to £ 336.6 million from £281.1 million in the year-ago period.