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Go Compare helps magazines firm Future return to revenue growth

 (Esure)
(Esure)

Shares in Country Life publisher Future surged today, as the firm said its revenue grew again in the first three months of 2024.

The growth was mostly driven by Go Compare and a “resilient” performance from its magazines.

Digital publishing continued to struggle with website users slipping further, as “macroeconomic pressures and low visibility continue to impact the wider sector. However, analysts at Peel Hunt said it was on track to see its audience grow again over the next six months.

The growth follows a £25 million investment, focused on getting the most out of its best performing “hero” brands. That investment included 150 editorial hires.

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The shares jumped by 14.3% today to 685p. But that still leaves them down 38% over the past year. Peel Hunt said: “The shares continue to look  very cheap in our opinion.”

AJ Bell investment director Russ Mould said: “The announcement of a return to growth offers some much-needed relief for shareholders.”

“The company’s GoCompare price comparison site, which was seen as an odd fit when acquired in 2021, has provided some useful diversification at a time when advertising markets are difficult.

“Future built its success on buying up specialist magazine titles cheaply and plugging them into its existing platform in order to generate revenue from their content and brands through a mix of digital advertising, e-commerce and getting readers to click through to partnered retailers and events. However, a downturn in both marketing expenditure and the number of users on its various websites have thrown a spanner in the works.

“It is encouraging to see the company investing in its strongest brands and this appears to be having some benefit in terms of direct digital advertising in the US.”